Jul 30, 2017
By Una Glass, Mayor of Sebastopol and Guest Columnist
The Sebastopol City Council wants to meet you! The Sebastopol City Council will be reinstating its summer information table at the Sebastopol Farmers Market beginning Sunday, July 23rd. One member of the Sebastopol Council will be staffing the table at the Farmers Market in the Sebastopol Downtown Plaza every Sunday through September, generally from 10 am to noon. This is your opportunity to meet members of the Council, ask questions about our City government and share your ideas.
I had great conversations with constituents and west county residents at our Farmers Market table in years past and am looking forward to meeting old and new friends!
City finances may seem boring, but they are very important to providing high-quality services and sustaining our town’s quality of life. The Sebastopol City Council and the City’s finance department have been hard at work improving the City’s online services and long term financial sustainability.
The most important news to Sebastopol residents is our new online payment option for water and sewer customers. Go toci.sebastopol.ca.us/billpay to pay your bill online or to learn how to set up automatic payments. This new service is part of the City’s transition to more modern financial management software. Implementing this new software and providing more online public information about our City’s finances is a major project that we started over a year ago and we expect to complete in about another year. Other online services that we expect to offer in the near future are permit applications and payments as well as business licenses. Eventually, our new software will enable the City to provide much more detailed information about the City budget and finances to the public. This fits with our goal of providing increased fiscal transparency to the public.
The Council has also been working to ensure the City’s financial sustainability. Five years ago, the City had no financial reserves. In other words, the City had no savings account available to respond to emergencies such as a major sewer line failure or the loss of a vehicle. Now, as of the 2017/18 fiscal year, the City has a reserve account equivalent to approximately 17% of the annual general fund budget for miscellaneous emergencies, as well as special designated reserve funds for equipment, vehicle and technology replacement, another fund for buildings and facilities, and a third fund to accommodate predicted pension shortfalls.
Addressing housing issues is a high priority for the City Council. The Council formed a Housing Subcommittee early this year and completed a series of community forums late last month. The information gathered from these forums will lead to a housing action plan for consideration by the City Council. The plan will address such issues as – should zoning or development standards be changed? Should the City propose a new tax to generate revenues for affordable housing? How can we best provide “workforce” housing?
The Housing Subcommittee’s report will be released late this summer and will come before the City Council after Labor Day. Visit the City’s website (cityofsebastopol.org) or Facebook page (facebook.com/CityofSebastopolCA/) for ongoing information about this important topic.
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