The Imperial Beach City council voted on an ordinance on April 15 to show intent to disestablish the Business Improvement District during a teleconference meeting. This item was on the consent agenda.
On May 6, a public hearing will be held to disestablish the BID which was created in 1997 with the purpose of acquisition, construction, and/or maintenance of parking facilities; decoration of any public place; promotion of public events in public places; provision of music or entertainment in public places; and promotion of business activities. The chamber and the BID were referred to as a single entity and the chamber administered the BID funds. The council received input from both the chamber and BID during the Dec. 4, 2019 meeting and has determined the organization is no longer viable. The assets of the BID equal to $105,000 (about $79,000 retained by the city and proximately $26,000 in the BID bank account.) Once the BID is disestablished the funds will be refunded to the businesses.
Also discussed, the Imperial Beach Business Assistance Program has been created by the city manager in collaboration with the mayor. The program includes relaxation of regulations like banners and expedited BID disestablishment to give refunds to the businesses. In addition, CDBG funds are allocated to low and moderate income business owners, minority owned businesses, businesses that serve low and moderate income residents, waiver of business license late fees, holding a small business summit and the elimination of the Palm Avenue Lighting District.
After a lengthy discussion between the council members, the language referring to $45,000 to go to the chamber for administering the BID funds (over three years) was removed to make clear that all the money in the BID account gets refunded to the business owners. A motion was carried unanimously.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the South Bay Union School District (SBUSD) and Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) for the continuation of a resource officer program was discussed. The city has been responsible for 45 percent of the cost for the program. As stated in the agenda, “The total cost for the year 2019/20 is $287,351. Since the schools are not in session the entire year, now the city has paid 22.5 % of the total cost resulting in a program cost for fiscal year 2019/20 in a program cost for fiscal year 2019/20 of $222,697. SBUSD provided as agreed, compensation for 10 percent of the program cost or $22,269.70. The SUHSD had previously agreed to provide compensation for 45 percent of the program cost or $100,213.51. However, due to the unanticipated financial issues, the SUHSD indicated to staff that they will only be able to provide compensation for about 40.4 percent of the program costs or $90,000. Therefore, in fiscal year 2019/20, the city will need to cover 49.6 percent or $110,457.72 of the program costs rather than the anticipated 45 percent.
“The total program costs (total officer cost of $301,718 x .775) in fiscal year 2020/21 will be $233,831.45. Once again, SBUSD has agreed to provide compensation for 10 percent of the program costs or $23,383.15. However, the SUHSD has indicated that they will need to once again remain static at $90,000 while they recover from an unanticipated financial shortfall. This will result in the SUHSD providing compensation for 38.5 percent of the total program cost and the City will need to cover 51.5 percent or $120,423.20 of the program cost.”
Two resolutions were presented to the council. One for an MOU between the city and SBUSD and the second between the city and SUHSD.
During council discussion Councilman Robert Patton said he believes in the program. “It’s tough and complicated…I’m an educator…now more than ever [the program] will pay for itself in the long run with hopefully less crime with kids when they do go back to school,” he said. Patton suggested allowing SUHSD pay what it can now and pay the rest later.
Councilman Mark West said, “Imperial Beach is assuming more and more responsibility… right now we don’t know what school will look like next year…until the herd immunity is established it is difficult for me to move forward with this,” he said. West said he would approve the MOU with SBUSD but not with SUHSD.
Councilman Ed Spriggs shared concerns with the rest of the council. “Sweetwater [Union] is shorting one of their high schools…by this approach we need to express our concern…our community, our schools are shorted and the city is expected to make up the difference… it’s unfair,” he said.
“I agree that a resource officer is important, but it’s concerning that this is not equitable,” said Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre.
City Manager Andy Hall explained that SUHSD is in arrears for FY 20, “They have not paid, if we don’t pass a resolution tonight we probably won’t get payment of $90,000 and the city will have to absorb $90,000 or terminate the program.”
Hall said he had a call into the Sheriff’s Department to look at changing the contract and not pay for the non-program costs. He suggested that if the city picks up the higher cost, then the resource officer should spend less time in the school and more time patrolling the city. He also said the cost for the officer at Mar Vista High (MVH) is higher because there is only one high school in the city versus places like Chula Vista which has more than one and can all share the cost.
He also pointed out that since there is a good number of students at MVH who live in San Diego possibly the city of San Diego can share the cost of the resource officer. He said he has an appointment set up with Councilwoman Vivian Moreno to discuss this issue.
Spriggs said he doesn’t want to lose the resource officer but does not want to buy into the long term share of the higher cost. The council voted to have a continuance on this item.
In other news:
The TransNet Extension Ordinance Regional Transportation Congestion Improvement Plan (RTCIP), a mitigation fee to fund improvements to the regional roadway system, was raised by 2.0 percent based on SANDAG’s board vote. The amount was raised from $ 2,533.15 to $2,583.82 starting July 1, 2020 for new residential dwelling unit. A motion was carried unanimously.
Assistant City Manager Erika Cortez gave an update on the city’s response to COVID-19. Employees of supermarkets, grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants, pharmacies, a child care facility that serves food, banks or public transportation are now required to wear masks. Restaurants can offer only delivery and pick up and no onsite dining is permitted; banners outside restaurants are allowed to help them advertise their new hours or specials. For mental health it is recommended to maintain a normal routine with regular meal times, exercise and bedtime; connect with others via technology; avoid too much news and share concerns with family and friends. The Access and Crisis line number is 888-724-7240. Fire Chief John French applied for a grant through FEMA and recently the city received a trailer now parked outside city hall. The purpose of the trailer is to help with first respondents in case of quarantine or of emergency such as a structure fire if a family needs a temporary place to stay.
The next city council meeting will be held May 6 at 5 p.m. via teleconference and the public can log to the city website www.imperilabeachca.gov to listen.