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Long council meeting prevents discussion of long council meetings

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Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 10:00 pm

Wednesday's Lodi City Council meeting once again went too long to discuss just that - long meetings.

Instead, in a bit of a protest, Councilmen Keith Land and John Beckman voted against a motion to go past the 11 p.m. hour and the meeting adjourned just before 11:20 p.m.

Subsequently, an item held over from past agendas was postponed to the March 5 City Council meeting.

At that time, three months into her role as mayor, Susan Hitchcock may finally get to discuss the frequency and scheduling of Wednesday night council meetings and informal Tuesday morning sessions.

Also on the agenda

In other action, the City Council:

  • Heard an update on the state's budget and its potential effect on Lodi.
  • Voted on rejecting the appeal from Legend's since the former eatery has transferred its liquor license, effective last Friday.
  • Appropriated $14,185 to cover expenses incurred during the Nov. 5 general election and for expenses associated with the referendum petition submitted against the Lodi Redevelopment Project No. 1.
  • Allowed staff to advertise and obtain informal quotes and award a bid for the urgent purchase and installation of a heater in Enze Pool at Blakely Park at a cost of $26,000.
  • Approved purchasing three transformers at a cost of $41,081.
  • Appointed Eduardo Aguirre to the Planning Commission to replace Councilman Beckman, who stepped down following the November election.

Two of the last four regular meetings have run past 2 a.m.

At their Feb. 5 meeting, council members postponed the discussion on whether to continue with longer-than-usual meetings after more than four hours of regular meeting business.

The item was last on Wednesday's agenda.

But under city law, the City Council must agree with a two-thirds vote to continue a meeting past 11 p.m. Land's motion at the last council meeting died without a second.

Earlier in Wednesday night's meeting, council members reviewed estimated revenue projections for the city's 2003-05 budget.

Although the city's finance director stressed that figures are still preliminary, anticipated revenue this year is down approximately $13 million from last year. That is due mostly to a shortfall in state money and one-time grants from previous years, according to City Manager Dixon Flynn.

Last year, for example, through former Assemblyman Anthony Pescetti, the city secured a $4 million grant for the new public safety building, currently under construction on West Elm Street.

Other decreases can be blamed on rolling the city's hotel tax back to 6 percent from 9 percent, and a loss in parking permit revenue due to free parking in the city's new garage and the closure of a permit-only lot.

Investment earnings also decreased substantially, from $4.5 million in 2002-03 to an estimated $1.7 million in 2003-04.

Also on Wednesday, council members approved spending $35,000 for computer software and technical assistance to study potential storm drain improvements on Lockeford Street near Loma Drive.

The survey will update the city's current drainage plan and help determine what repairs should be made.

Larger pipes - at an additional $82,000 - could be installed later in the year, but would need further council approval.

A new pump station at Lodi Lake could also be an option once the study is completed. That could cost roughly $705,000 to $905,000.

Residents in the 1700 block of Lockeford Street have complained for years about the lack of drainage on their street. Oftentimes the water ends up in their garages.

"I know things don't happen real fast," resident Tracy Elliott told council members Wednesday, "but if there's any way we can accelerate that analysis … ."

In the interim, Flynn said the city has an emergency storm crew on alert. In case of a heavy downpour resulting in flooding, he said city employees can respond to the neighborhood to help sandbag houses and re-route traffic away from flooded streets.

"We've been watching the (weather) reports here lately," Flynn added.

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