LIVINGSTON -- Even though a new mayor and councilwoman were just sworn in Tuesday evening, big changes are already happening -- and they might include lower water rates.
During a closed session Tuesday night, new Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza, Councilwoman Margarita Aguilar and new Councilwoman Theresa Land met with legal counsel to discuss pending lawsuits, then conducted a public employee performance evaluation of City Attorney Jon Hobbs.
Mayor Pro Tem Frank Vierra wasn't present for the meeting.
The result of the conference included a 3-0 vote to dismiss the appeal on the Foster Farms lawsuit against the city over water rates.
It's possible that the water rates will be reduced, said City Manager Richard Warne.
"If the court approves the withdrawal of the city's appeal, the 1995 water rates will be reinstated," he said. "If the city decides to increase rates in the future, it will be required to complete a new water rate study and go through the Proposition 218 process again."
Foster Farms brought the lawsuit last year because of the manner in which the water and wastewater rates were raised.
After an initial ruling in favor of Foster Farms, the city appealed.
Despite most of the work being done, money spent and recent support from The League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties and the Association of California Water Agencies, the new council still directed the city attorney to drop the appeal.
If it's withdrawn, it would go a long way toward improving relations between the city and Foster Farms, said Randy Boyce, senior vice president and general counsel for Foster Farms. "I would be delighted," he said. "That would be great news because then we could shut down the attorney's fees."
Boyce describes himself as a lawyer who doesn't like to litigate. "No one wins in litigation," he said. "There's a lot of money involved. But there seems to be positive momentum in the right direction."
The closed session meeting also ended with the resignation of Hobbs.
Since the meeting was held in closed session, Hobbs said he couldn't discuss the details of his resignation.
Hobbs will handle the request for withdrawal of the appeal. His resignation isn't effective until 6 p.m. Friday.
At the end of the closed session reports, Espinoza called for a special council meeting at 6 p.m. Friday.
Given the pace of change in just the first week, stay tuned for more.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.