Council appoints City Treasurer and approves contract for new community center air conditioner

Winters City Council met on June 5 and appointed a new City Treasurer, to replace the Winters Community Center air conditioning system, and more.

Council members nominated Cathy Mathews as City Treasurer. Mathews was recently hired as Director of Administrative Services, but will now take on the role of City Treasurer to replace recently retired Shelly Gunby.

New air conditioner
Council also approved a $32,500 contract with SONCO Heating and Air Conditioning to replace the existing air conditioning system at the community center.

The City has received and reviewed offers for the repair and replacement of the system. The lowest repair bid was $12,028, but the board opted to accept staff’s recommendation to replace the system with an energy-efficient programmable unit.

budget workshop
City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa presented a workshop to council on the 2022-23 fiscal year operating budget which she said comes from 11 funds that are expected to generate $18.9 million in revenue.

Trepa said fluctuations in revenue over the past few years have made it difficult to forecast, but the city remains “cautiously optimistic” that next year’s fiscal budget will remain balanced.

Based on the developer’s construction schedules, a decline in building permit activity is expected to result in a 28% decline in building permit revenue in fiscal year 2021-22. However, the City expects construction to “burst” with construction activity in the next fiscal year as the Meritage, LDS and Walnut 10 developments progress.

Despite the projected decline in building permit revenue, the city forecasts an increase in revenue from property and sales taxes and expects revenue to be fairly close to what they actually budgeted.

Trepa said a 16% increase in sales taxes is expected as the city weathers the challenges of the pandemic, while overall the city anticipates a 4.5% increase in general fund revenue.

A five percent salary scale increase for all departments was budgeted by combining a four percent increase in the cost of living with an additional one percent obtained by eliminating the current sick leave incentive program .

Some staff adjustments and realignments were recommended to better serve the finance, planning and construction departments. The budget provides for three new job classifications to result in a net increase of two full-time positions.

The U.S. Treasury Department has eased restrictions on how U.S. bailout (ARP) funds can be spent. The City of Winters qualified for $1,749,000, which Trepa said “must be fully encumbered by December 31, 2024 and expended by December 31, 2026.”

The first installment of $874,952 was received last summer and the second installment of an equal amount is expected to arrive in August.

“It’s our most flexible source of funding,” Trepa said, noting “it can be used for anything.”

So far, the board has approved several projects for ARP funds while others are still proposed.

Board members thanked staff for their hard work in preparing the budget for the first time since Gunby’s retirement.

“All of our new faces in the City of Winters is like a different City Manager, a different CFO, a new planner. With so much turnover over the past year, putting together such a comprehensive and detailed budget … very impressive,” Mayor Wade Cowan said in congratulating the city manager and staff.

Filing complaint
Winters City Council convened June 6 for a special closed city council meeting to confer with the city attorney regarding anticipated litigation.

The discussion between city council members and the city attorney has been closed to the public, and all of the factors discussed to cause the city council to consider litigation have not been disclosed.

After the closed session, City Attorney Martin de los Angeles announced that council had voted to take legal action against the as-yet-unidentified party.

De los Angeles later recounted, “We report that the board voted to sue the party. Details of the case will be made public when the case is filed.

The council’s vote to move forward with the litigation was 4-1-0, with Pro Tem Mayor Bill Biasi the only no.

Jill E. Washington