CALEXICO — Although there was a fair amount of discussion and what appeared to be a slight bit of confusion, the Calexico City Council approved a balanced budget for the coming fiscal 2020-2021 year, which starts July 1.
The council approved 5-0 a balanced revenue-expense-neutral total budget of $108.74 million, which includes operating expenses of $47 million and a capital improvement program (for roads and other major infrastructure projects) of $61 million. The budget contains a general fund of $16.44 million.
The action included approving some $2.2 million in budget augmentation requests from individual departments contingent on additional revenue being realized throughout the 2020-2021 budget year.
Initially some council members wanted to fund a portion of the cost of a project director for the Public Works Department but were informed by Finance Department Director Karla Lobatos that to do so, cuts would have to come from somewhere else in the budget.
The council appeared ready to do that at one point, as Public Works Manager Lilliana Falomir and City Manager David Dale testified that the need for the position was dire in order to ease some of the burden on public works staff.
However, a motion was made by the council to pass the budget and augmentation list, plus put the funding for the public works position as a No. 1 priority when new revenues were identified.
Fire Department Bid Awarded
Council awarded a $5.827 million bid to Oakview Constructors Inc. of Calimesa by a unanimous vote to build a new state-of-the-art Fire Department headquarters at 430 E. Fifth St.
Demolition of the old fire station could begin by mid-June, with an expected move-in date of mid-2021, Calexico fire officials have said.
Dale said during an interview in January that the fire station project has been fully funded since 2013 or 2014, when the city’s Measure H Committee agreed to pay for the new station. Measure H is a 2010 voter-approved half-cent sales tax that is monitored through an oversight committee set up by the tax measure.
In 2013-2014, the committee took out $10 million worth of bonds and set aside $6 million for the fire station, Dale said. The city manager was confident that the existing funding would be enough to cover what he said at the time was a $7 million price tag on the fire station build.
The city has $1 million to $1.5 million in state Community Development Block Grant Program funding available for the project.
Dale told the council June 3 that the city likely would have to tap into those CDBG program funds to pay for what will most undoubtedly will be unexpected expenses.
Dale said it’s not uncommon for projects like this to come back with about 10 percent in change orders, or added expenses from unexpected costs. He told the council that he expects the final price tag on the project to be around $6.2 million to $6.3 million.
Water Pipeline Project Bid Awarded
Council awarded a $1.275 million contract to A&R Construction of Brawley to install a new 8-inch water pipeline along Second Street from Blair to Andrade avenues and 8-inch water main pipelines along Dool and Beach avenues between Second and Seventh streets.
The project includes connecting existing water services and fire hydrants to the new water main pipelines, according to a report to the council by Falomir.
The cost of the project was already part of the capital improvement program funds in the current year’s budget and comes entirely from Water Enterprise Funds that were set aside for the work, according to Falomir.
Final Cesar Chavez Project Change Approved
The final work on the Cesar Chavez Boulevard widening project got underway June 8 with Union Pacific Railroad fixing the railroad tracks at Grant Street and Cesar Chavez.
Due to accompanying work related to the railroad work, the council approved an eighth and final change order for contractor Pyramid Construction and Aggregate Inc. in the amount of $99,450.
With the eighth change order, the total cost of the Cesar Chavez Boulevard expansion project will be $7.495 million, nearly $1.5 million over the original project price tag. The added cost will be covered by voter-approved Measure D half-cent sales-tax funds, which have been used to cover all the cost overruns thus far, none of which have impacted the general fund, officials say.
Workers’ Comp Training Program Approved
To reduce workplace illnesses and injuries, the council approved a training and consultation package with Fernando Ruiz & Associates of El Centro for a monthly retainer fee of $2,785 and a one-time risk management services training of $35,000.
Services provided by Ruiz & Associates will provide preventative training, access to guides and materials, and consultation and assistance with creating new policies and procedures, according to a report to council prepared by Falomir and Denise Garcia, human resources manager. Job site inspections and “tailgate” meetings are also included in the costs.
The staff report states Ruiz & Associates already works with several local cities and is currently working with Calexico’s Public Works Department supervisors and is drafting the city’s COVID-19 policies required by the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal OSHA).
Watch the Calexico Council Meeting Online
Livestreamed June 3, the recorded Calexico City Council meeting is available to watch online on the city’s website on calexico.thepublicspectrum.org/ and as well as the city’s Facebook page.