Wednesday, August 30, 2006

News column preview

In an attempt to get information out to our community using various media, you may have noticed that I recently started a weekly column in the local newspaper, the Ross Valley Reporter. Here is a preview of the column I submitted yesterday for publication next week.

Update on FEMA: As almost everyone in Fairfax knows, the Town’s infrastructure suffered significant damage as a result of the December 31, 2005 flood and the April 11-12, 2006 storm event. To ensure that we recover all the money that is owed to us, the Town has been working its way through the long process of applying for assistance from FEMA and the Town’s flood insurance carrier. To date, the Town has paid out $893,000 toward flood recovery, which includes emergency debris removal, emergency protective measures, repairs to Peri Park, and clean-up of damaged Town buildings. However, to date, the Town has received only $151,718 in flood insurance settlements and $68,000 in FEMA reimbursements. We have a long way to go in terms of ensuring that all monies owed to the Town are paid to us and Town staff is diligently working toward that end.

Update on the next Council Meeting: Our next regular Council meeting is September 6th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club. The Council will be considering some very significant issues, including:

  • Consideration of a resolution waiving permit fees for solar installation, and adjusting other planning and building fees to better recover the actual costs of providing services. In May, the Council directed staff to draft a resolution waiving all permit fees for solar installations in Fairfax. If the Town Council waives all fees for solar installations, it will become the lowest ($0) solar permit fee in Marin County.
  • Adoption of the Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2006-07. After three public workshops and significant public input, we are at the point of adopting the Town’s revenue and expenditure plan for July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007. General Fund expenses are projected at 5.2% above budgeted expenditures for last year, and property tax revenue is estimated to grow at a rate of 7%. This budget will get us through a challenging year as we recover from the flood, while still allowing us to make progress in many significant areas.
  • Adoption of negotiated labor agreements with all Town employee groups. We have reached agreements that provide for fair compensation and benefits to recruit and retain our most precious Town resource: our Town employees.
  • Approval of an update to the Town’s Emergency Operations Plan, which was reviewed and revised by our Citizens’ Disaster Council.
  • Consideration of the Town’s response to the Marin Civil Grand Jury’s report on “The Next Disaster: Are Marin Citizens Prepared?”

Update on Strategic Planning: In January 2006, the Town Council, as required under Measure F, began a comprehensive strategic planning effort to address the Town’s financial situation, as well as focus on how we want to shape the future of our Town. The next Strategic Planning Meeting of the Town Council will be held on Saturday, September 9th at 9:00 a.m. in the Women's Club. All are welcome to attend and participate in the process.