Chantal M. Lovell, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/28/2011 07:22:04 PM PST
REDLANDS – The City Council will meet at 6 tonight and view a presentation on the service priorities of the Police, Fire and Quality of Life departments.
Also on the schedule is a presentation on how to make Redlands more environmentally sustainable.
At the council’s Feb. 1 meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Foster proposed having city departments examine the services they offer and prioritize them into three categories.
The intent, modeled after that of other cities like Roseville, is to make the budgeting process more productive because the council would, in theory, base its cuts on the priority list, cutting first the least essential items.
To start, the Police, Fire and Quality of Life department spent the past month going through their agencies, sorting their core services into one of three categories: primary, secondary and enhanced.
“From a service level perspective, I think these departments provide a lot of services residents expect from the city,” said Mayor Pete Aguilar. “It made sense to start with the departments that provide the services the residents expect the city to provide and the ones that make up the largest chunk of the organization.”
Tonight, the heads of the three departments will make presentations to the council on how they have divided up their departments thus far.
Fire Chief Jeff Frazier said he will present an overview the services his department provides and the factors considered in categorizing them.
Police Chief Jim Bueermann and interim Quality of Life Director Les Jolly will give similar presentations on their departments.
Frazier said his department has been cut so much in recent years that the services it offers largely fall into primary and secondary categories.
“The unfortunate thing in helping the council is, because we’ve gone through a series of cuts already, the things that fall into the service enhancement category aren’t being funded,” Frazier said. “Even the (secondary core services) are things that either don’t cost us much to operate or are offset by the fees we charge to operate them. There are really no more cuts I could recommend.”
Aguilar agreed that future cuts will be more difficult to make.
“We have cut pretty much down to the core services of many departments,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar expects other departments also will be asked to prioritize their services.
The council will also consider whether to adopt the Redlands Sustainability Plan. The document was created by a group of volunteers who came forward at the end of 2008 to form the Climate Action Task Force and eventually drafted the plan.
The plan, according to the task force and city, would serve as a non-binding framework for how the city approaches sustainability in the future in an effort to meet environmental guidelines mandated by the state.
“We see this as a guiding tool for the staff to look at in the future,” said task force Chairwoman Jan Hudson. “We have to look at these upcoming mandates and those that are already here, and it’s a lot easier to do that when you have this plan to serve as a guide.”
Hudson said the plan, if adopted, would be another tool in the city’s arsenal to be used when applying for grants or determining how to adhere to mandates. Any policy recommendations would still need to go through the normal approval process.
“I feel we’ve done good, honest work that will benefit all of us, our fellow citizens, our community and our businesses,” Hudson said. “We have a lot of expertise on this task force and a lot of hours, work and research went into this. It will still be up to staff to do their due diligence and research in regards to policy decisions.
“This is just something that is shelf-ready that they can reference. We see this as an economic tool to help businesses and the city learn how to save money through energy efficiency.”
Not all agree with Hudson’s assessment, however. Members of the Redlands Tea Party and Townhall Patriots are expected to attend tonight’s meeting to speak against adoption of the plan.
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