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

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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

Councilmembers appointed Cathy Mathews to the position of City Treasurer. Mathews was recently hired as the Administrative Services Director, but will now assume the City Treasurer role 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 received and considered bids for both repairing and replacing the system. The lowest repair bid was $12,028, but council 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’s operating budget that she explained is derived from 11 funds expected to generate $18.9 million in revenue.

Trepa said fluctuations in revenue in recent years have made it difficult to predict, but the City is remaining “cautiously optimistic” that next year’s fiscal budget will remain balanced.

Based on developer’s building schedules, a decline in building permit activity was anticipated to result in a 28 percent decline in building permit revenue over fiscal year 2021-22. However, the City is expecting building to “pop” with building activity next fiscal year as the Meritage, LDS and Walnut 10 developments move forward.

Despite the projected decline in building permit revenue, the city is predicting increased revenue from property and sales taxes and expects revenue to come in fairly close to what they actually budgeted.

Trepa said a 16 percent increase in sales taxes is anticipated as the City moves past pandemic challenges, while overall the City is projecting a 4.5 percent increase in general fund revenue.

A salary schedule increase for all departments of five percent was built into the budget by combining a four percent cost-of-living increase with an additional one percent achieved by eliminating the present sick leave incentive program.

Some staffing adjustments and realignment were recommended to better serve the finance, planning and building departments. The budget calls for three new employment classifications to result in a net increase of two full-time positions.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has eased restrictions on how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds can be spent. The City of Winters qualified for $1,749,000, that Trepa said “has to be completely encumbered by Dec. 31, 2024 and expended by Dec. 31, 2026.”

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

“This is our most flexible source of funding,” Trepa said, noting “it can be used for anything.”

Thus far, council has approved several ARP fund projects while others are still being proposed.

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

“All our new faces in the City of Winters, it’s like different city manager, different financial director, new planner. With such a turnover over the last year, to pull together such a comprehensive in-depth budget … very impressive,” said Mayor Wade Cowan in complimenting the City Manager and staff.

Lawsuit filing
The Winters City Council met on June 6 for a special closed session city council meeting to confer with the city attorney regarding anticipated litigation.

The discussion between members of the city council and city attorney was closed to the public and any factors discussed to cause the city council to consider litigation were not revealed.

After the closed session City Attorney Martin de los Angeles reported that council had voted to enter into litigation against the yet to be identified party.

De los Angeles later recounted, “We’re reporting that council voted to enter into a lawsuit with the party. Case details will be made public when the case is filed.”

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

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