Sanger council moves forward on key items

Decisions on advocacy, Measure S, youth council and annexation were among the highlights of the latest council meeting

sanger cc-city council-50-23-df
Darren Fraser
Published December 10, 2023  • 
10:00 am

SANGER – Sanger City Council made several notable decisions at its recent meeting, some of which sparked engagement from concerned citizens who were in attendance to the convening. 

At its Dec. 7 meeting, among other actions taken, council approved an amendment to pay CrisCom Company an additional $2,500 per month for advocacy and lobbying efforts; conducted its first public hearing on adding the North Academy Corridor Annexation parcel to District 1; approved a recommendation to restore the Sanger Youth Council; and approved a proposal to engage the Lew Edwards Group to solicit public opinion regarding Measure S, which is slated for renewal on the November 2024 ballot.

MEASURE S CAMPAIGN

The item that generated the most response from residents was a proposal on the city’s Measure S campaign. To start, Interim City Manager Greg Garner informed council that the city has passed the halfway mark of the 10-year cycle of Measure S. 

Last May, former Sanger City Manager Tim Chapa presented the Citizens Oversight Committee (Committee) with a recommendation that the city put up the measure for renewal on the November 2024 ballot. The committee agreed and recommended that the measure’s ¾ cent sales tax remain in effect. 

It also recommended that Sanger voters have the authority to determine how long the measure will remain in effect – as opposed to a predetermined end date.

Garner informed the Council that Measure S makes up one-third of the revenue for public safety. Absent the funding that comes from the measure, Garner said he would have to lay off eight police officers. He said he did not know how many firefighters would have to be let go.

“If we wanted to keep (current) levels, we’d have to cannibalize other city departments,” said Garner. “The loss would have a tremendous impact across the board and not just public safety.”

Council agreed to enlist the services of the Lew Edwards Group to spearhead the public awareness campaign regarding the measure. This would entail gathering public opinion, developing a strategic plan, recommending public engagement and assisting with ballot measure development, should the campaign lead to the conclusion that the measure will be added to the November ballot.

According to the report presented to council, funding for the proposal would not exceed $108,750 and would be paid from the city’s fund balance.

During public comments, two Sanger residents said they were disappointed by how the city disbursed the funds after the measure was first enacted.

“The last time this measure was presented to the public, it was presented to the nonprofits as helping with drugs and whatever,” said one resident. “It didn’t turn out that way. Turned out that the police and fire department got everything. It seems the past two years that nonprofits had to beg for crumbs; that was embarrassing. That’s not what I voted for.”

Another resident said when Measure S was first introduced in 2008, he vigorously campaigned for it.

“I walked down a lot of streets for Measure S,” he said. “What happened? Two chiefs decided where the money was going to go – the fire chief and the chief of police.” 

He also warned council to distribute Measure S revenue equitably among nonprofits. “Otherwise, I will walk the streets against Measure S,” he said.

 

Garner reminded council that since Measure S has been in effect, the city has donated nearly $4 million to local advocacy groups for gang prevention work.

NORTH ACADEMY CORRIDOR ANNEXATION

In 2022, council adopted Ordinance No. 20.22-03, which redrew the city’s district boundaries based on data from the 2020 Census.

After the district maps were redrawn, the city acquired a 28 plus-acre parcel – the North Academy Corridor Annexation. The land is located north of District 1 between Fairbanks Avenue, Kings Canyon Road and Quality Avenue. At present, 36 residents reside on the parcel, all registered voters.

City attorney Hilda Cantu Montoy informed the council the Elections Code specifies that when new territory is added to the city, it must be added to the nearest council district – in this case, District 1.

Montoy said the Elections Code 21607.1 mandates the city conduct four public hearings regarding the action of adding a parcel to a district. Montoy told council when she heard about the requirement for four public hearings, she was skeptical. She consulted a colleague who specializes in this area of law and her colleague confirmed the requirement.

During public comments, one resident said he was dubious that the land would remain in District 1.

“I know you’re not going to keep it on District 1,” he said. “With its houses and buildings. That’s not going to be there forever. That would be crazy. I’m looking at you, mister mayor.”

In response, Gonzalez said, “One thing; it’s hard to look into a crystal ball. The reason why we’re doing this is (because) this has already been annexed into the city. It has to be accounted for.”

THE CRISCOM COMPANY

The CrisCom Company is a Los Angeles-based firm that provides a host of services, including public relations, business development, marketing, grant writing and governmental affairs and advocacy.

The city currently contracts with CrisCom for grant writing services at a cost of $4,500 per month. At the Dec. 7 meeting, council approved an amendment to the city’s agreement with CrisCom to pay the company an additional $2,500 per month for advocacy and lobbying services, effective Jan. 1, 2024.

In recent years, CrisCom was instrumental in securing a number of grants for Sanger. Last May, the company drafted a grant for the Clean California Local Grant Program, and in result, Sanger received $1 million for Veterans Park from the state. Most recently, CrisCom submitted a grant for the Wonderful Central Valley Community Grant Program in October.

In her presentation to council, Renee Missakian, CrisCom chief operating officer and executive vice president, said her company provides its clients a weekly Sacramento snapshot. This snapshot provides a list of legislative items CrisCom believes can benefit its clients.

“These are things we think the city would be interested in keeping an eye on,” Missakian said. She said in addition to staying abreast of legislation, CrisCom maintains relationships with legislators who are connected to various funding projects.

“We keep up with all of those relationships,” she said. “We’re constantly working on that. We want to make sure no one is pulling these funding projects that are so important to the city. That is why we want to make sure we have a good relationship with a large majority in Sacramento.”

In response, Mayor Frank Gonzalez said, “I know that keeping those relationships in those positions is key for us to get money. I know you guys are doing a great job at that.”

SANGER YOUTH COUNCIL

In 2020, owing to the pandemic, the Sanger Recreation Division halted the Sanger Youth Council (Youth Council) meetings. At the same time, the council and the Sanger School District canceled Youth Council meetings at their respective meetings.

With the end of the pandemic and the expansion of the District’s high school campuses, Recreation Supervisor Joaquin Zamora requested the council’s support to renew the youth council. Changes to the program would include changing the member terms to one-year terms to ensure seniors, athletes and other students carrying heavy academic and extracurricular loads do not burn out. 

City staff will meet with the District and prepare amendments to the current ordinance and bring these to city council for approval.

Councilmember Michael Montelongo, District 4, expressed his dissatisfaction over the delay.

“I’m disappointed. I’ve been asking for this for two years,” he said. “This should have been (brought) to us without us asking. Their (Youth Council) voice is important and our staff needs to realize that. We failed our kids. I don’t have to wait until the end of the year; I want to see this happening now. Whatever it takes for them (staff) to work with the school district, the better.”

Darren Fraser
Reporter