Council to Solicit Citizens’ Advice on Budget Committee

The City Council welcomes the community’s input on San Marino’s budget, but it wants to be closely engaged in the process. At its meeting last week, the council steered away from establishing a citizens’ budget commission and instead agreed to create an ad hoc council committee — one that will have two council members sitting in on the proceedings.
The City Council decided to hold off for a bit on the composition of the group, however, to see who was still standing after this week’s election.
“I believe it’s our job to make sure we have good communication, and all the financials are transparent to our citizens,” said Councilman Dr. Richard Sun, who wasn’t up for re-election this week.
“I am in favor of an audit of the city departments,” added Richard Ward, another councilman who is in the middle of his term. “… I would call them management audits. Let’s do a pilot program where we do a thorough audit of the Police Department or Fire Department and see how that goes, to see what the results of that are. If it proves useful and accomplishes its goals and leads us to adopt some changes in how departments are run and organization, that’s all good.”
With only two council members on the committee, the group will not be subject to the Brown Act — providing notice of its meetings a certain number of hours in advance, not allowing members to deliberate unless a quorum is present, etc. San Marino did something similar last year with a panel that met periodically with City Manager John Schaefer to hammer out a draft of a historic preservation ordinance.
Council members also discussed the prospect of the city hiring an outside financial consultant to look into the city’s budget and its operations. Vice Mayor Dr. Allan Yung asked Schaefer to look into what that would cost.

In other business:
• The council voted unanimously to enter into a $150,000 contract with Precision Concrete Cutting of Chino Hills to conduct sidewalk repairs and maintenance. “We have beautiful trees in our community that compromise the integrity of our sidewalks,” said Assistant City Manager Lucy Garcia, who noted that a recent survey of the city’s sidewalks found 5,800 locations that were deemed hazardous because of the uplift of roots. The repair of each involves concrete cutting.
• Lacy Park opened at the end of last week following a two-month closure to replace the inner loop. The next projects in the park will be a restroom reconstruction and the installation of the Patrick’s Tree improvements in the playground. The restroom work is being held up by discussions with Southern California Edison about getting an extra electrical meter nearby, Schaefer said. The bid for the Patrick’s Tree work came in at $130,000, about $17,000 higher than local advocates Danielle Martin and Colleen McGuinness had raised, so they’ve been asked to scale down the scope of their project, Schaefer said.
• The target date for completion of the rebuilt Circle Drive Bridge is Nov. 16. Railings, landscaping, a retaining wall and paving work still need to be completed.
• The council agreed to allow the San Marino Schools Foundation to install promotional banners on 35 streetlight poles adjacent to the public schools from January to May next year. The SMSF agreed to pay for mounting hardware and to reimburse the city for staff costs to hang the banners.

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