Rohnert Park’s City Council, riding a recovering budget and the goodwill of an uncontested November election, rearranged itself Tuesday in a mayoral transition notably absent the political tensions of past years.
Rohnert Park will finish the second half of the fiscal year in far better fiscal condition than it started, the city’s mid-year budget shows. A projected $2 million deficit has been cut to $333,000 since July, a change due almost entirely to new sales tax revenue and employee wage and benefit concessions.
Jake Mackenzie, the longest-serving member of Rohnert Park’s City Council, was elected mayor on Tuesday night by councilmembers. His first priority? The budget. He says the city needs to look at increasing revenues after years of cutting spending.
A Windsor debris removal company has sued Rohnert Park, arguing that a fee the city wants to charge companies that win a hauling contract is “tantamount to a bribe.” Pacific Sanitation’s suit says the city requires the company that wins the contract, now out for bids, to pay $300,000 in addition to other fees.
Wal-Mart’s expansion of its Rohnert Park store hit a bump Thursday when a Sonoma County judge ruled more work is needed on noise and parking issues.
A highly visible electronic advertising sign on Highway 101 will get more so, the result of Rohnert Park City Council’s approval Tuesday of a private company’s bid to lease it, raze it and build a bigger one. Petaluma-based N2 Holdings, Inc., plans to sell advertising to nationwide clients as part of a digital advertising campaign.
Hey buddy, can you spare a dime? Rohnert Park may start a foundation to raise money for city events such as the city’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration. Funding cultural programs, rather than basic city services, would be the likely goal. But recreation programs, which are traditionally funded by the city’s general fund, might also benefit.
Rohnert Park officials on Tuesday hurriedly took possession of 15 properties from the city’s redevelopment agency, hoping to protect them in the event the state moves to eliminate the agency.
“We’re protecting the people of Rohnert Park,” said Councilwoman Pam Stafford.
In 2007, Rohnert Park officials cut in half the amount the city needed to cover the costs of medical benefits it offered retired employees. Overnight, the city’s unfunded liability went from $56 million to $27 million – at least on paper. But that gain has since evaporated. Today, the unfunded liability stands at $53.2 million – principally because the city failed to start putting away money it had promised its retirees and current workers.
An independent political committee funded by Codding Enterprises, one of Sonoma County’s most prominent developers, played a dominant role in Rohnert Park’s City Council election last year, campaign finance reports show. The Protect Rohnert Park committee spent $62,309, nearly as much as the $70,567 spent by all six candidates together.