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No ad hoc committee concerning charter city in sight

Council is set to review every city department at future meetings
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Residents will have a chance to discuss whether or not they want Auburn to be a charter city, but just how the city will go about doing that was a topic of debate Monday night. In a 3-1 vote Monday the council decided to indefinitely table the idea of forming an Ad Hoc Charter City Committee and instead going ahead with the previously approved plan, which is to have three City Council meetings on June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8 that outline information about charter cities. According to City Manager Bob Richardson, a charter gives a city more control over how it functions. Mayor Bill Kirby voted against tabling the idea of forming a committee and Councilman Mike Holmes is currently in Washington, D.C. According to Richardson, Holmes placed the ad hoc committee item on the City Council agenda. Councilman Kevin Hanley said he didn’t see the need for a committee because of the current plan to discuss a charter during council meetings. “I think the structure that we set up at the April 11 (City Council) meeting to have three public meetings spreading over three months, and to have plenty of public input was a good structure,” Hanley said. Hanley said one question he would have liked to ask Holmes is how Holmes thought the committee should be staffed, and what the purpose would be of having a committee separate from the council if each body would be receiving the same information. “If we do it in three scheduled meetings of the City Council, staff would be here to answer questions at no extra cost,” Hanley said. Richardson said separate from the city charter issue, the council also previously decided to look at each of its city departments to find out how they are running and what potential costs could be cut to get through tough budgeting times. Richardson said at the May 23 council meeting the Community Development Department is scheduled to give its report. The Auburn Fire Department is planning to give its report June 20. These reports fall on City Council agendas that do not include the city charter item. The charter city concept does not drive decisions that will have to be made on the day-to-day operations of individual departments, and the two concepts are not necessarily related, Richardson said. Kirby said he disagreed. “In order to make decisions on a charter city we need to know the impact it will have on every operation of every department in this city,” Kirby said. Hanley said he thought as each department makes its presentation the council could ask staff if a charter status would offer that department more flexibility. “(For example) charter city gives a lot of power in the police area,” Hanley said. Hanley said he didn’t want to vote to defeat the ad hoc committee item, because it could present another option for reviewing the possible charter status, if necessary. Kirby said he was against tabling the committee item or taking any action on it because the idea of having a separate committee had already been voted down in the past. “My (feeling) with this is I’m absolutely opposed to this, because we have already made a decision,” he said. At one point Kirby said trying to get the council members to decide what to do about the issue was like “herding cats.” In other business City Council: · Heard a report from Placer County Water Agency about the impact of the Bear River Canal break to its customers and how it is working with PG&E and the Nevada Irrigation District to come up with solutions as quickly as possible. The agency again asked treated water customers to conserve 25 percent or more of their water supply. · Approved a funding agreement with Placer County Transportation Planning Agency for a new city transit bus. The agreement gives the city $22,835 for the partial payment of a new bus that is already in service in the city. · Approved a funding agreement with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency for a $10,445 grant for the Mikkelsen Bus Shelter Project. The project will be completely paid for by the grant, according to Megan Siren, transit manager with the city. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com