CALEXICO — Although it was the first Calexico City Council meeting since social distancing was put in place due to COVID-19 concerns and closed to the public, it was business as usual on March 18 for the most part when the city made several decisions affecting the wallets of its citizens.
This came as many people employed in nonessential jobs
have been sent home from work for an undetermined amount of time, some of whom
have been laid off and will need to file unemployment insurance claims.
Public comments for the meeting were accepted in
writing and by email.
The council unanimously approved a $1.88 increase per
month in fees for residential customers collected by Republic Services/Allied
Waste for the operation of an organic waste recycling program mandated by the
state. The increase to residential customers was for the operation of the
recycling program only.
At the same time, the council approved a $2.58 per
month increase for commercial customers. That included an increase for the
operation of the recycling program and for an annual rate increase tied to the
Consumer Price Index increase that went into effect in January 2019. It was not
factored into the monthly approved rates when the city signed a new service
contract with Republic/Allied in November.
The CPI increase, according to the city’s contract
with Republic/Allied, could have covered residential services, but that
increase was not being recommended or applied here; only the added cost of the
recycling program, according to a report by City Manager David Dale.
The same level of rate increases was being applied to
the cities of Imperial and Brawley, which all have agreements in place with
Republic/Allied, Dale stated in the report.
An organic waste recycling program, which was approved
as part of Assembly Bill 1826 in 2014, is meant to divert organic waste from
landfills. Organic waste is defined as food waste, green waste, landscaping and
pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste and food-soiled paper waste that is
mixed in with food waste.
Bus and Taxi Fares
Council was split on its support of a resolution to
raise the maximum taxicab and bus fares in the city, with a 4-1 vote. Calexico
Mayor Bill Hodge opposed the decision.
“With this coronavirus and heading into a recession
and people losing their jobs, this is not to time to increase bus and taxi
fares on our citizens,” Hodge said March 19, a day after the meeting, which was
livestreamed on the city’s website. “This is going to have a negative impact to
our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly.”
The base rate for taxicab fares were increased by
$1.50 per ride, with council member Morris Reisen ensuring that any motion
include that seniors pay a $1 less for taxi rates. All bus fares were increased
by 50 cents.
The proposed rate increases were being recommended
following a “fair market analysis” and a comparison of fares in “similarly
situated cities,” according to a report by City Attorney Carlos Campos.
The increases are meant to “account for the increase
in operational costs borne by both taxicab transportation service providers and
bus operators,” Campos wrote in the report.
Taxicab fares within the city will increase from a
maximum of $5 a ride to $6.50 per ride (with $1 less for seniors). Bus fares will
increase to a maximum $1.75 for general fare, $3.50 for round-trips and $1.50
for students and seniors. This affects private bus providers and not Imperial Valley
Transit public bus service.
The council also moved forward with the process to consider
levying fees on businesses in the city’s Business Improvement District in a
In the first step, the council unanimously approved an
annual report of the BID advisory board and set an April 1 public hearing on
levying the annual assessment on businesses in the district.
The second step involved opening a public hearing
during the March 18 council meeting and continuing the hearing to April 1 to
determine if “there exists a majority protest to levying the calendar year 2020
assessment” for the district.
At issue, ultimately, is whether the city will
continue to collect $100 through annual city business licenses to fund BID.
That affects about 445 businesses operating within the district. The fees are
used for “promotion, marketing and advertising of professional and retail
businesses located in the BID,” Campos reported.
The BID is divided into two zones. Zone one includes
the businesses from First to Fourth streets and from Mary Avenue west to Paulin
Avenue. Zone two is Paulin Avenue west to Emerson Avenue (with Imperial Avenue
located between) and from the border north to Highway 98/Birch Avenue.
Ball Fields Fencing
The City Council split 4-1 on approving a bid of
$167,750 by Crafters Fence Inc. of Santee for the Adrian C. Cordova baseball
fields fencing project.
Reisen voted against awarding the bid. Prior to the
final vote, Reisen made a motion to throw out the three received bids so that
another local company that missed putting in for the project could do so. He
said the local fencing company did not know the project had gone out to bid.
Public Works Manager Liliana Falomir, whose department
is working on the parks project, said the bid was properly advertised on the
city’s website and in publications, and that other local companies were aware
of the timeline.
Dale said rejecting the bids would delay the project
by two or three months and might not allow the city enough time to plant grass
this year at the ballfields being constructed if there is a delay.
Reisen’s motion died for a lack of second, and the
council voted to accept Crafters Fence Inc.’s bid.
The project involves building fences for three
baseball fields in the undeveloped portion of the park. The 15-acre Cordova
Park is located on Clinton Avenue between Zapata Drive and Meadows Drive in the
eastern part of Calexico.
On March 5 the city received three bids, with Crafters
being the lowest bid. The others were Red Hawk Services Inc. of Perris
($244,070) and George Mitchell Builders Inc. of Brawley ($253,000), which is a
The fencing project was already budgeted into the
current 2019-20 fiscal year for the Capital Improvement Program and is being
paid for through Measure H bonds. Measure H is a voter-approved half-cent sales
Cordova Park is being worked on in stages as funding