Councilman Ed Miller

Councilman Ed Miller


Actions taken at  the May 26, 2015 Banning City Council  meeting:

Residents spoke to the Council expressing their concerns over the appointment of Library Board members by the County, and stated that the City actually had the responsibility to make those appointments.  The  City Attorney was asked to evaluate the City’s role in these appointments,  and report his conclusions at the next Council meeting.

 The council  approved an agreement with the electrical workers  and management unions.  The new contract will give the union members a one-time payment of 2%  of their current salary,  plus $750  towards their heath care benefits for the electrical workers, and $600for the management workers.

 All will also get a 3%  salary increase plus $1200 towards their health care benefits.  Employees in five  key electrical positions  which are in high  demand will receive a $5000 retention bonus this year, and will receive an additional $5000 bonus on June 1, 2016 if still employed by the city.    The cost to the city for this fiscal year is $325,781, and for  future years is $731,849 per year.

 The Council approved a continuation of the annual $42,000 contract with Federal lobbying company (Innovative Ferial Strategies).  This lobbying company has been helpful in  making contacts with Federal officials  informing them of the problems that our city faces with regard to  Federal actions.

 The Council passed an ordinance requiring a conditional use permit for churches, meeting halls and restaurants in most areas of the city .  The  conditional use permit lets the city staff determine the impact on the surrounding occupants before such use is approved.    The  ordinance  also clarifies  building codes to specify that no building can be closer than 5 feet from the property line.  Previous verbiage was unclear and suggested that  buildings  could be built right up to the property line.  This change voids that statement.

 The buildings on 649 W Lincoln  Street,  which have been partially constructed and abandoned are under new ownership.  A developer  requested waivers of the fees for sewer and electrical construction, since they claim they were already paid to the city by the previous owners. .  The Council expressed great interest in having this  project completed.   However, building codes have changed, and the plan presented was not clear.  The council voted to consider this at a later time when the developer can present more complete plans for the project.

The Council passed an ordinance which applied  the water restrictions resulting from the drought  as proposed by Governor Brown to our city.  The rules to be followed will be advertised throughout the city and on the city website.  Our city is required to cut its water usage by 32%.  While such cuts are necessary due to the drought, it is important to note that the loss in revenue to the Banning water Utility will be in excess of $2.5 million.  How this loss will be compensated for remains to be seen.

 Replacement of the 40 year old water clarifier motor in the water plant was approved for a cost of $98,100.

 The council approved $44,529 for legal services for the Electric Utility.

 A temporary Senior Systems Analyst had been   hired through a contract with the Romo Group.  This position is no longer needed, and the contract was ended by  the Council.

 A developer in Poppet Flats is proposing new construction of  154 homes in that community.  Poppet Flats receives its water from the Banning Water Utility., and these new homes would require water from our Utility.  This will require 148 acre-feet  (482 million gallons) of water per year.   The city agreed to provide this water after the drought restrictions are removed, and if the developer provided water conservation devices in the construction and landscaping.

 A contract for $79,200 was awarded for planning the widening  of Hargrave , and changes to improve traffic flow and safety at the intersection of Hargrave and Ramsey.  Since the street must be torn up, the old leaky water line will be replaced  with a new  14 inch water main along Hargrave from Ramsey Street to  Williams St.

 As will be reported frequently, the city is involved with negotiations with the Forest Service over the city’s continuation of obtaining water from the flume.  The Forest Service  is requiring various studies to determine the feasibility of our city using the water as compared to their evaluation of the needs of the wildlife and endangered species.  The Council approved $35,850 for a water simulation model  which will evaluate how water flow in one area  near and in the flume will affect the flow in other areas..  Flow meters to measure stream and flume water flow are also required, and $150,900  was approved for this purpose as required by the Forest Service.  The annual cost of maintaining these meters is estimated to be  $89,000 per year. This will only be the beginning  of several required expensive studies demanded by the Forest Service.  The city has already spent approximately $400,000 in the past on studies which have not yet satisfied the Forest Service.  If these expenses seem enormous (they are), the Pass water Agency has estimated that the water from the flume for the next 30 years will be worth at least $100 million, and fighting for this water is a necessity.

Ed Miller, Banning City Council


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