Some project updates:
· The SR 128 Roundabout Project bids will go before the City Council on January 3 with a recommendation for rejection. Essentially, the bids came in about $700k over the engineers budget and the City simply does not have the funds to do the project. Staff will be talking with representatives from SACOG and other agencies to see if we can find other funds to go toward the project. Additionally, the engineers will be talking with contractors who bid the project to determine why there was such a huge discrepancy between the estimates and bids.
One reality of doing capital projects is a combination of the increased cost of materials and fewer contractors doing work these days. When the economy collapsed in 2008, so did many construction companies. As the economy has rebounded, the emergence of companies doing work has been especially slow. This means fewer companies which equals fewer bids and the competitiveness for projects is significantly lower, thus the contractors can bid higher which drives costs. Also smaller are the suppliers of materials which also increases costs. This all points to higher costs and dramatically fewer projects in our future.
· Staff is currently in the midst of developing our estimates on the costs of implementing the new Chromium 6 projects and operations. This includes a review of estimated project costs, estimates on operational aspects, debt service to pay for the massive capital expenditures and ultimately what the new rates will be for our customers. This is a high priority project and we will hopefully have some firm numbers in the coming months.
With CR6, a Judge has ordered the Department of Drinking water to provide an economic impact analysis of implementing the new regulations on consumers and water providers. The good news is that someone is finally sobering up and realizing that this is a massive cost and burden to both utilities and ultimately rate payers. The bad news is that the timing of the economic anaylsis may be too late to help everyone. We are still waiting to hear whether the Judge will suspend implementation of the new requirements pending the analysis.
In Winters, we see the requirement adding close to $120 per month ($1,440 annually) to customer bills, taking the monthly water rate for the most frugal water user to over $200 per month! Very low income in Winters is someone with a monthly income of approximately $750 per month. To follow the impact, that means that the water bill alone will now represent 26% of that low income persons monthly income. Deduct a very low income rent of about $350, $50 for sewer, $100 for other utilities (phone, electric or cable), that will leave $50 a month ($1.66 per day) for food, medicine and other expenses. I challenge everyone to try to live on $1.66 per day for the next month and see how you do!
Once we have our firm numbers, I plan on sending the Judge and the folks at the Department of Drinking Water the information for their economic study. Maybe they can compare which benefits more, having an MCL which is 90% lower than 49 states and the federal requirement, or forcing people to live on $1.66 per day. We will see……………….
· The traffic signal at Main/Grant is inching closer to a permit. The final plans are being dropped at Caltrans this afternoon and we are praying for a permit for the signal this Xmas.
· Walnut Park has been hydro-seeded and the recent rains have been a blessing for helping to establish the seeds. A little sunshine will go a long way toward encouraging the turf to grow. I recommend driving by the site to take a look with the caveat that you drive by in 3 years when the landscaping will start taking shape. This is going to be a beautiful park in the coming years.
· The Planning Commission took up two items on Tuesday, including approving a variance for side yard setback for a new home on Russell Street and modifying zoning definitions for second residential units to keep our zoning code compliant pursuant to some new legislation going into effect in January. We have a really good Planning Commission and they are doing well.
· Cannabis is a hot topic throughout Yolo County. The County is working on regulations regarding the regulation of cultivation in the rural areas. The other cities are looking at both distribution and sales. In Winters, we are waiting for the details of Proposition 64 to be released by the new State agency and will follow suit once those are in place. The City WILL be looking at the nuisance issues for personal grows in residential areas which is becoming a problem.
· December 3 was an epic night in Downtown Winters with the tree lighting, Second Annual Tractor Parade and the arrival of Santa. A big congratulations to the coordinators Megan Curry, Kathy and Wade Cowan, Carrie Green and a small but dedicated group of volunteers who pulled off an epic event. These folks really brought an incredible and memorable evening. AND, don’t forget all the farmers and ag folks who were the stars of the evening! A special thanks to the folks from Yolo Balloons for not burning down all the trees with their fiery display on the back of the Turkovich Float!
There will not be a Friday Update next week!
Hanukkah begins next Saturday, Christmas is Sunday and New Year the following weekend. Who can believe it!!
I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. Winters is a community which is blessed with beauty, wonderful people and a spirit which brings and incredible quality of life. As you gather with friends, families and neighbors, give thanks for all we have and pray for an incredible 2017.