DINUBA – City Council has approved two updated contractual agreements during its final meeting of the calendar year, ensuring residents have continued access to important community services.
At its meeting on Dec. 12, the Dinuba City Council unanimously passed updates to the city’s professional services agreement with the City of Visalia for animal shelter services and with the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce for the work it does organizing special events and supporting local businesses. The council also approved the tentative plans for a new housing development and discussed local holiday events.
City staff presented plans for a new housing subdivision, named “Los Prados,” to the council, which first passed through the Dinuba Planning Commission the week prior. As reported in the Mid Valley Times on Dec. 10, the planning commission had concerns about traffic that were shared by the council members.
“The commission did have some points to raise or some concerns about traffic on Crawford (Avenue), which thickens up, especially during school hours,” Karl Schoettler, city planning consultant, said. “I think the staff has some ideas that can be done to mitigate that.”
City staff said they would be able to construct dedicated turn lanes into the new neighborhood to help with traffic flow. Council members did not bring up any additional requests for the subdivision and approved the tentative map and a zoning ordinance change to adjust the boundaries between the residentially zoned portion of the site and the commercially zoned portion.
Schoettler said that depending on when the housing developer submits the application for the final subdivision map, the development could be breaking ground sometime next year.
Animal shelter agreement
The city amended its animal shelter contract with Visalia to increase the fixed annual fee paid to Visalia from $56,740 to $202,000. Lt. Thaddeus Ashford of the Dinuba Police Department said this change was necessary because the initial agreement, which was put into place in 2016, did not account for inflation or other service needs increasing.
“The new agreement cost increase is projected to cover the increased prices in food, medication, veterinary care, vaccines, cleaning supplies and other sheltering needs that were not properly accounted for in the original contract,” Ashford said.
According to the city staff report provided to the council, the City of Visalia notified Dinuba in September that the costs for operating the shelter were drastically increasing, opening the door for renegotiation.
The new contract will be effective retroactively beginning on Dec. 1 and continuing through Dec. 31, 2024, at which time it will be eligible for four more one-year extensions.
Although the fee increase is steep, city staff said that Dinuba is saving money by contracting these services to Visalia, as some cities pay much more for animal control and shelter services.
Through the contract, Visalia provides the city of Dinuba with sheltering, billing and licensing services. All dogs in Dinuba must be licensed; the City of Visalia provides the billing service for licenses, though the revenue generated by licensing fees goes to the city of Dinuba.
Dinuba’s animal control officer, who works under the police department, will pick up stray animals and transport them to the shelter in Visalia if needed. Ashford said that the control officer typically holds a stray for a couple of days while trying to locate the owner before taking that animal to the Visalia shelter.
Visalia will then hold the animal for the state mandated number of days, plus an additional two days, at which point the city of Dinuba has to notify Visalia to continue to hold the animal indefinitely, or else the animal will be humanely euthanized, according to the contract.
After an animal has been held by Visalia for seven days, Visalia will begin to charge Dinuba for expenses related to the sheltering of that animal. According to the contract, Dinuba may charge owners of sheltered animals for all shelter fees incurred during impoundment, which Visalia will bill on behalf of Dinuba.
Ashford said the new agreement also stipulates that Visalia will shelter a maximum of 400 animals for the time of the contract; additional animals it shelters for Dinuba will cost the city $315 per animal.
Council members expressed concern over this number, and Councilmember Benjamin Prado mentioned that with so many new developments under construction in the city, that will increase the number of animals that could get loose.
Dinuba Police Chief Abel Iriarte said that in the last five years, Visalia has sheltered an average of approximately 350 animals for Dinuba, so the number in the contract should be manageable — at least for the time being.
The amended agreement also requires the city of Dinuba to consider an ordinance — within 60 days of the agreement’s approval — that mandates all sheltered animals be spayed or neutered as a condition of release from the shelter, “unless the health or age of an animal would prevent alteration,” the agreement said.
If the city does not adopt such an ordinance, then Visalia may terminate the contract on 10 days’ written notice, according to the agreement.
Chamber of Commerce agreement
The city council also approved a new agreement with Dinuba Chamber of Commerce; Assistant City Manager Daniel James said the agreement was first established in 1989 and last updated in 2004.
“Many of the terms of the agreement remain the same,” James said. “There’s been some language added in the financial reporting section for improved transparency. … There were no changes to the financial contributions in terms of the amounts; it’s just mostly to clarify the roles and responsibilities.”
According to the agreement, the chamber receives 40% of the proceeds collected by the city from its annual business license fees in exchange for the services the chamber provides to the city.
The chamber’s responsibilities to the city include facilitating annual community festivals and events, supporting the needs of current and prospective local businesses and helping further the development of online and social media communications that promote the city and its businesses.
Also specifically included in the agreement is the requirement that the chamber “make every effort to preserve the history and traditions associated with the events (such as the Dinuba Raisin Festival event) and its associated activities.”
Discussion between council and chamber members centered around the council’s desire to have more communication from the chamber to council members, residents and business owners. According to some council members, they have received complaints from residents about the chamber being unresponsive and not holding regular hours at its office.
“There’s just a lot of things that I have trouble with, one being when the chamber won’t listen to the community, and then we get the calls on it, and the city council is not the chamber,” Councilmember Linda Launer said.
One complaint brought up was that council members have heard from business owners that the chamber will not assist businesses that are not official chamber members, which Dinuba Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Heathe Jones said is not correct and will never be the case as long as she is heading up the chamber.
Launer said the council members also received numerous complaints from residents about the chamber’s decision to alter the Raisin Day Parade route, which in its history has always gone past Rose Ann Vuich Park, but did not this year.
Additionally, Dinuba Mayor Maribel Reynosa said she was disappointed that the chamber said they would put up signage around the park about the route change, but that did not happen.
“I think this whole agreement between the chamber and the city, I think it will hopefully clarify some of the things, give a bit more transparency as to where the money’s going to, and hopefully alleviate some of the phone calls we get,” Reynosa said. “There will be a learning curve on both sides, from the city’s side and the chamber’s side, that I’m sure is something that we can all work through.”
The next council meeting will be on Jan. 9, 2024.