Mayor Garrad Marsh says that during his Saturday town hall meeting, he plans to talk about Modesto’s water, how the city is developing better budgeting tools, and new efforts to deal with graffiti and panhandling.
He also will answer questions from audience members during the meeting, which is from noon to 2 p.m. in the council chambers at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.
Marsh said he will address the city’s efforts to conserve water during a third straight year of drought and how Modesto is in better shape than surrounding cities because it gets its water from wells and the Tuolumne River. Other cities rely just on wells. He will talk about the city’s efforts to treat its wastewater to a higher level so it can be used by West Side farmers to irrigate their land. He said that could start as soon as 2016.
Modesto has been using budgeting tools that let officials look at the city’s finances over two and three years, Marsh said. It now has tools that give the city a 10-year look. The mayor said that’s important because it helps the city see the long-term consequences of some of the issues it faces – such as rising pension costs – and the decisions it makes – such as hiring more employees.
Marsh said Modesto is developing a faster and more aggressive response to graffiti, which he expects the city should roll out this year. It also is developing a response to the homeless and others who pose problems because of aggressive panhandling and other quality-of-life problems they create. He said the city is looking at having community service officers and police Explorers stationed in problem areas.
He said the idea is that panhandlers and others who create problems will be less likely to misbehave when they see the uniformed community service officers and Explorers. The community service officers and Explorers can summon police officers if they encounter serious problems.
The mayor typically holds quarterly town hall meetings.
In other city news, the people trying to mount a recall election against District 5 Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer have until Monday to turn in their petitions. They need to collect the signatures of 3,385 registered voters in Kenoyer’s district, which encompasses north-central Modesto, to put a recall election on the ballot.
They are trying to remove Kenoyer from office because they say she went back on her campaign promise to protect farmland and is belligerent and does not have the temperament and skills to hold elected office.
Sue Stevens – one of the organizers of the recall attempt – said as of early September, they had collected about 2,000 signatures. She and other recall organizers and volunteers planned to meet Thursday evening or Friday to review how many signatures they have collected and their plans for the weekend.
Kenoyer was among the council majority that voted in January to include Wood Colony, the close-knit farming enclave west of Highway 99, in an update to Modesto’s general plan, which serves as a blueprint for how the city will develop. The update is undergoing an environmental review and is expected to come to the council for final adoption in early 2016.
Modesto has faced a backlash from colony residents and their supporters. The dozens upon dozens of colony residents who have attended council meetings have said they don’t want their community included in the city’s plans. They say Modesto is ignoring the wishes of hundreds of colony residents in favor of a handful of landowners who want to develop their land.
Kenoyer, who was elected in November, denies the claims made by her opponents and said her focus is on serving her constituents.