The city staff presented an updated master fee schedule — a list of costs to residents for city services and facilities — during the regular meeting of the council.
Anne Bell, a management analyst in the finance department, told council members that the city was raising all fees by 2.556 percent starting July 1 based upon the U.S. Department of Labor Consumer Price Index for the Bay Area, which is the closest geographic comparison available to use.
“The annual update of the fee schedule attempts to align city revenue fees with the cost of providing the services,” Bell said. “However, consideration is also given towards making sure that those positive services are affordable to the community. It’s a balancing act.”
Bell told council members that the city took in $3,736,979 during the 2012-13 fiscal year from the fees it charges for business licenses, animal adoption, programs at and rental of the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, and other services. That same year the city spent $7,949,738 to provide those services.
“The fee revenue is considerably lower than the cost to provide the services,” she said.
Councilman Robert Rickman was surprised by the discrepancy.
“I don’t think it had ever been laid out like this before,” Rickman said.
Rickman questioned whether the city needed to do more to reduce the subsidy of more than $4.2 million from the city’s General Fund before the revenue from Measure E — the half-cent sales tax increase passed in 2010 — ends next year.
“One thing I don’t like is raising fees or taxes,” he said, adding, “If it’s not for increasing revenue or to get a profit, then it’s not a tax.”
Mayor Brent Ives asked Administrative Services Director Jenny Haruyama whether fees might have to be increased again soon or if the city might have to reduce services.
“It’s conceivable that, as we have this discussion about how we’re going to close the gap, that these could be on the table as well as a component?” he said.
Haruyama responded that both would be possibilities.
Councilwoman Nancy Young asked Haruyama about other funding sources.
“I know there’s different grants that we could get for different things, as options maybe for helping close some of these gaps,” Young said.
Haruyama said the city already employs a person whose responsibility it is to aggressively seek out grants.
Rickman made a motion to accept the fee increases, which was seconded by Councilman Charles Manne. The council voted unanimously to approve the increases.
More homes in Tracy
Acting City Manager Maria Hurtado revealed that twelve new housing developments are almost ready to break ground, adding about 1,200 new residences to Tracy.
Hurtado said 500 of the planned residences are high-density, multi-family housing, and the rest are single-family homes.
“Whereas the economic recession resulted in a standstill for residential construction these past several years, this last year the city has experienced a substantial amount of residential development, which is a good sign of economic recovery,” Hurtado said.
Hurtado also said Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is adding a second location in Tracy. She also mentioned that Ono Hawaiian Barbecue, Extreme Pita and SweeTarts cakes and cupcakes were among the growing list of food vendors opening up shop in Tracy in the near future.
The meeting was disrupted for a few minutes during the first period for public comment when businessman and regular council meeting attendee David Helm accused Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel of spreading rumors about him.
Helm said he had heard that Maciel was questioning the propriety of a gift the owner of Helm’s Alehouse had received from Tracy firefighters.
Helm then accused the mayor pro tem of publicly calling him gay in front of his son. He added that Maciel could not “hold his jockstrap in a fight.” The mayor asked Helm to temper his language, because several teenagers were in the council chambers. The businessman said he believed he had offended no one.
When Helm’s five-minute time for comment expired, Maciel, who had not yet spoken, asked the mayor if he could clarify something in Helm’s statement. Helm returned to the podium, saying “OK, Mike, let’s do this.”
Ives told Helm that his time for comment was over and that he would allow Maciel to make his statement. Helm protested, but the mayor said that he was being disruptive and asked Helm not to force him to call the police officer providing security to remove him from the meeting.
Helm replied, “Please, Brent, I implore you to have me removed for speaking my mind.”
At that point, the officer, who had moved down the aisle close to Helm, walked with the businessman back to his seat. Helm yelled back to the podium as Maciel began to speak. The mayor immediately told Helm that the act was disruptive and asked him not to repeat it.
Maciel said that if anyone wished to know if something they heard from a third party was true, they should seek him out and ask him. Watch the public comments portion of the meeting in the video below.
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at email@example.com or 830-4231.