Downtown study session, water ordinance, districts on agenda
A study session on the Downtown Business Improvement Area and a public hearing on revising the City’s water ordinance are among the items to be considered by the Merced City Council during its Monday meeting.
The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
A 5:30 p.m. study session will be held so that the Council can consider three options regarding the Downtown Business Improvement Area, a core of businesses that pay double business licenses fees so that the funds can be used for improvements, promotions and other uses.
Currently among the items the money pays for are the Christmas Parade, Cap and Town, sidewalk steam cleaning, Art Hop sponsorships, banners, newsletters, advertising and promotions and staff administration. The fund averages between $65,000 and $80,000 a year with the largest contributors being Grocery Outlet, Rite Aid and Pep Boys.
The program has come under fire from some Downtown merchants who question how the funds are being spent. Council will be looking at the overall program, not the individual expenditures. Council is being asked to consider eliminating the fund, contracting it out to a vendor or restructuring it using City staff.
A public hearing will be held during the regular meeting on proposed water conservation measures in the City. Under consideration are decreasing outdoor irrigation days from three to two; limiting the non-watering hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and requiring fund-raising car washes to be held at commercial car washes where the waste water can be recycled.
The Council will consider the issues and actions needed to implement City Council Districts if it were to pursue that direction. The City Council received a letter from Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund claiming the City’s current voting system violated the state’s Voting Rights Act and threatening to sue if action was not taken by May 1.
Also on the agenda is a request from staff to lower the fees for swim lessons from $35 to $10 for the summer. Donations have been offered to cover some of the costs of the lessons, which will be offered at McNamara Park and at Merced High School.
There will be a closed session following the study session to confer with labor negotiators.
City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s home page at www.cityofmerced.org. The City will also add the Council video to YouTube for people that were unable to watch it live. These services are in addition to the live broadcast of the meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.
The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak cards are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.