Richmond City Council Meeting — March 23, 2021

The Mayor recommended completion of item from last council meeting – to establish an ad hoc homeless committee; volunteers included McLaughlin, Jimenez and Butt.  Willis motion/Jimenez second – motion passed unanimously.  This committee will work with Supervisor Gioia to look at alternative programs for the homeless community.

Regular meeting of the City Council: A. All Councilmembers present. C. Conflict of Interest- none Councilmember Bates and McLaughlin presented an emergency agenda item condemning violence against Americans and read a proclamation.

F. City Attorney Report – no final decisions made in closed session. I. Study and Action Session I-3 The Council agreed to move item I-3 up, “Adopt an urgency ordinance enacting a temporary moratorium on certain evictions of residential tenants in Richmond impacted by the COVID19 pandemic…”

  • McLaughlin presented information that evictions in Richmond were higher than other cities. The Richmond moratorium had ended – this would fill the gap. Richmond had 28x the number of evictions than Oakland impacting the Black and Brown communities.  This results in homelessness which increases death. 51% of Richmond residents rent. This would provide for no evictions during the current emergency except for health/safety risk. Through SB91 renters and property owners can receive financial support.
  • Mayor Butt questioned the numbers McLaughlin quoted and he calculated that there were only 2 evictions/month.
  • Willis stated that numbers came from KTVU which had a report on this, the Sheriff’s office, and notices to the Rent Board.
  • Bates questioned if the City’s ordinance was stronger than State and County’s would this put the City in a liable situation
  • McLaughlin – county not as strong as Berkeley/Oakland/SF
  • Johnson – we need to do a better job of keeping data; embarrassing; highest # of writs and evictions during pandemic; we need to look out for each other.
  • Public speakers – 17 were in support, the majority stating they were representing ACCE, Eviction Defense Center and APEN, 6 callers were opposed.
  • Following public speakers, there was continued discussion with Attorney commenting on the need to add language regarding writ of possession entered before the ordinance took effect.
  • McLaughlin motion/Willis second- with the amendment Attorney recommended; vote: No Bates, Butt, rest ayes; passes.  As this was an “emergency” agenda item it required 5 votes to pass.

10:03pm I-1 10 Year Financial Forecast from management Partners

  • LaShonda White – information item, not seeking action; will review how the fiscal model dashboard works and have the consultants review the long-range financial model
  • The dashboard allows for manipulation of various factors – increasing revenue items, decreasing expense items to predict budget balance.
  • Management Partners Consultants presented the overview but due to the lateness of the meeting, they shortened the presentation.  (The full presentation is attached).  Comments included:

o   City’s financial sustainability is challenged. o   All previous reports point to a structural deficit; “Delay is not your friend.” o   City does not have enough money to deliver the services that the public wants. o   The City will have significant budget shortfalls through FY27. o   deficit of $82Mil FY27; deficit of $203Mil FY31, however this could drop to $145Mil deficit in FY31 with midyear adjustments and revised assumption. o   Revenue assumption changes: (1) business license tax increase of $5.3Mil was assumed to be in FY23, it will be seen in FY22; (2) Property tax revenue will go down to 1.04% versus assumed 2% assumed due to Prop 13; (3) Utility Users Tax will decrease by $4Mil after FY25 with end to Chevron’s agreement. o   Expense assumption changes: (1) increase of $2Mil in OT plus $1.5Mil in compensated absences based on historic trends; (2) FY21 position freeze, but 2DFTE/yr added which will increase expense; (3) adding $2Mil for preventative maintenance; (4) added COLA increases. o   Overall estimated shortfall is $17.6Mil/yr, with $145Mil shortfall in FY31.

  • Q/A by Councilmembers – Councilmember Jimenez states that the City has been proactive in creating new revenue – property transfer tax, business license tax, progressive taxes. “Ones who have more money need to support those that don’t have money.” She proceeded to ask about the amount of money Chevron pays in utility tax. The response from Antonio Banuelos was that they pay the cap amount but don’t know the specifics for proprietary reasons. Finance Director responded to her question about the business license tax stating that $5.3Mil is above what they currently receive, therefor the total would be $9.3Mil.  Jimenez asked for more ideas to increase revenue, asked for a list of the 55 FTE positions that are vacant and the length of time that the positions have been vacated. She commented that if the positions were filed that would result in reduction in OT to which the consultant responded that there would always be OT due to vacations, training, etc. He also noted that if the City chooses to unfreeze positions, they can use the dashboard to forecast the OT impact.
  • 11pm – Councilmember Jimenez stated that she had 2 more questions and made motion to extend meeting to 11:30pm.  There was no second.  Meeting adjourned.

Note: I was prepared to comment on the false assumptions for the Business License Revenue, however, they never got to public comment.  I did send in a letter. The remainder of the agenda will be heard at the next Council meeting.

Katrinka Ruk

Executive Director,

Council of Business & Industries