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City Council candidates face off at Eggs & Issues

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Public safety, sewer infrastructure and parking issues highlighted a discussion among four candidates running for two open seats on the Auburn City Council during a candidate forum held Wednesday morning. Candidates Bill Kirby, Keith Nesbitt, Dan Sokol and Lisa Worthington addressed an audience of roughly two dozen local business and political leaders over eggs at Marie Callendar’s as part of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs & Issues” breakfast. Asked how they would work to fund public safety, Worthington, 42, a Caltrans landscape architect and city planning commissioner, said she would like to look into the possibility of contracting with the Placer County Sheriff’s Department to provide services for the city. “I don’t think we can afford to pay higher salaries at this time,” Worthington said. “Not that it is not deserving, but that we can’t afford it. I would like to look into contracting with the Sheriff’s Department to see if it would be a cost-saving measure.” Incumbent Mayor Nesbitt, 52, co-owner of an Auburn mortgage company said bringing more revenue into the city’s general fund would be the way to increase public safety funding. “We need to increase sales tax revenue so we can pay these people more competitive salaries,” Nesbitt said. Kirby, 60, owner of a private urology practice in Auburn since 1980, said retention is the biggest issue with public safety in the city. “We have a difficulty with retention,” Kirby said. “Twenty-six officers in a town of 13,000 is certainly enough, but we need to find a way to retain our officers.” Sokol, 82, a retired geologist and current vice president of the League of Placer County Taxpayer’s, said city fire protection services are under funded. “Growth will pay for our existing fire and police, but I think fire has been under funded for years,” Sokol said. “Too much money has been spent on infrastructure when almost all of the city’s budget should be going to public safety.” Candidates were also asked their position on the possibility of Costco coming to Auburn. Kirby, Nesbitt and Sokol all agreed it would be positive for the city in terms of increased sales tax revenue. Worthington said she was skeptical about how much money would actually be brought in. “Not everything in Costco is taxable,” Worthington said. “Costco will compete with our mom-and-pop shops and I think it needs to be reevaluated. How will the delivery trucks get there and what will the impact be on Highway 49 and Nevada Street?” Candidates were then asked their knowledge and opinion on the city’s wastewater treatment plant issue and if they would support upgrading Auburn’s existing wastewater treatment plant or connect to a regional plant in Lincoln in order to meet state water quality guidelines The council must reach a decision by 2010 to avoid hefty fines. Sokol and Worthington said upgrades could all be made at the local level. Nesbitt said the regional option is still something the council needs to consider. “The more we look at the regional option, the muddier it gets,” Nesbitt said. “(Residents) will pay $1,200 a year at some point but it’s still an option we must consider.” Kirby said without all the information from Placer County and the City of Lincoln, he isn’t prepared to make a decision either way. “We don’t have the numbers we need to make a proper decision,” he said. Placer County Supervisor candidates Bruce Kranz and Jennifer Montgomery will appear at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 24 during the next Eggs & Issues discussion. The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com. -------- Eggs & Issues Catch Placer County Board of Supervisors candidates Jennifer Montgomery and Bruce Kranz at the next Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast. When: 7:30 a.m., Oct. 24 Where: Marie Callendar’s located at the Holiday Inn, Auburn Cost: $15 for breakfast For reservations call (530) 885-5616 ext. 220