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Council to deal with costs of lay offs

POSTED July 24, 2009 10:36 p.m.
The Turlock City Council will cover issues from land purchases to sewer management in their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
Of greatest interest is a pending city budget amendment to account for costs associated with the sacking of 23 city employees, which occurred on July 1. The 2008-2009 budget will cost the City an additional $78,349 in vacation and comp time cash outs, while $218,734 in unemployment benefits will be assessed to the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget.
All appropriations are to be funded by unspent reserve fund balances.
The City Council will also put on their hats as Realtors, purchasing two properties needed for Turlock projects.
The council will consider purchasing the fifth of seven parcels needed to construct the Public Safety Facility, the planned future home of the Turlock Police and Fire Departments, for $684,000 plus approximately $5,000 in escrow fees. The parcel, located at 201 W. Olive Ave., currently houses a Pizza Hut.
Also on the agenda is a planned expansion of Columbia Park into the land currently occupied by a home at 695 High St. The home is one of six with backyards facing Columbia Park and provides a nuisance to Turlock Police who find their visibility through the park blocked by the home, while the home’s fence provides an easy target for graffiti.
A “highly motivated” buyer offered the property at a substantially reduced sale price of just $48,000, plus escrow fees of $5,000 and an expected demolition cost of $20,000.
The parcel will be the second Columbia Park home purchased and demolished by the city, following the January 2008 acquisition of a single-family residence on the site where the Columbia Park Play Area now stands. The city has also submitted an offer for a third home in the park.
The City of Turlock’s wastewater system is again on the council’s agenda, as the city will look to adopt the new Sewer System Master Plan.
The SSMP, which has been in the works since 2006, will govern overflows or discharges of untreated wastewater from Turlock’s 204 miles of sanitary sewer pipelines.
Historically, Turlock has seen 21 overflows per year, with an average volume of 140 gallons. Over the past three years that average has declined due to proactive sewer cleaning, inspection, and management, leading to only three overflows to date this year.
The water system will also receive council attention, as the board will consider a two-year, $300,000 well repair contract with Howk Systems of Modesto. Howk Systems has been the city’s pump repair contractor since 1994.
The agreement, which was the only bid received through the city’s formal bid process, would allow Howk Systems to continue providing specialized services for the repair of various deep well turbine pumps, submersible water pumps, motors, shafts, and related hardware.
Also on the council’s agenda are the release of the preliminary Housing Element, the document that will govern Turlock’s housing policy through 2014, and the final reading of an ordinance change that will require dangerous or unaltered dogs to be leashed or muzzled at the Sunnyview Dog Park.
The Turlock City Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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