From the daily archives: Thursday, October 13, 2011

By Luke Phillips
Holtville City Treasurer Pete Mellinger addressed the city council at their meeting Monday to express his concern about three measures on the November ballot regarding the city’s utility user tax.
Mellinger says the three measures will be confusing to voters and questioned what would happen if more than one of the measures passed, a question that City Attorney Steve Walker couldn’t immediately answer.
There will be three measures on the November ballot concerning the utility tax: Measure ‘M’ would reduce the tax for a five-year period, Measure ‘N’ would reduce the tax for three years and Measure ‘O’ would extend the tax for five years. Each measure requires a majority to pass, but it’s not clear what would happen if more than one of the measures passes. If none of them passes, the tax will remain on the books as it is now.
Mellinger says he’s concerned as city treasurer about what would happen if the tax were lost and urged the city to clarify the matter.
“There will be drastic changes in income if we loose our utility tax,” Mellinger said. “What is the city’s position? Which department goes first? Which employee goes first?”
Walker says he’s done some basic research and studied Brawley as a model of what happens when a city loses it’s utility tax. According to Walker, Brawley relied heavily on cutting personnel to meet their new budget requirements. He also said the city could see cuts to staff training and travel budgets and city recreation programs. He also suggested that the city may have to cut back on night time lighting of city parks to save on power bills.
Council member Mike Goodsell said that the city would have to ‘cut employees pretty excessively’ if the tax were lost and reminded the council that nearly half of their general fund comes from the utility tax.
“We’re not going to get that by turning off the lights at Samaha Park,” he said.
Mellinger says that the public doesn’t fully understand what would happen if the city were to lose the tax and called on the city to release some kind of information on the matter.
Walker says that right now the city has calculated the amount that would have to be cut from the budget without the tax, but says that no specific categories have been identified for cuts.
“It’s way to early to tell what specific cuts you’d have to make because right now you don’t have to make them,” he said.
Meyerhoff told the council that he would return with more information on the ballot measures at their next meeting on October 24 and would have Walker clear up the question of what would happen if multiple ballot measures were to pass.


Vote “No” On All Three Holtville Utility Tax Proposals

SO HERE WE GO AGAIN. IT’S time for another election in Imperial County and Holtville.
If this one doesn’t put you right to sleep you’re probably dead already.
All we have for those of us who love to follow politics is a few school board elections and Holtville’s Measure M, N, & O.
Does anyone have any idea of who is running for these very important positions?
Or do you know that a couple of citizens in Holtville are behind trying to get the utility tax there repealed? Anybody paying attention?
For me, you should vote no on all of these utility tax proposals and let the utility tax stay in place, keeping us safe with the good fire and police protection that it funds.
Knocking this tax off means knocking off a few firemen and a few policemen. That’s fine until your house catches fire or someone decides to burglarize it. Then you will scream bloody murder about the inadequate service you get.
Appointed Councilman Jerry Brittsan is on record as saying his utility tax bill amounts to $30.00 per month. It’s probably the best investment he has, even though he’s one of the people opposing this tax.
For his $30, he gets 24/7 police protection for himself and his property. He also gets 24/7 fire protection. Try getting that from a private security agency.
And he even gets park maintenance in Holtville’s showcase location – Holt Park. Not bad for less than a dollar a day.
If you vote for any of the current proposals, then you will be voting for a sunset clause which will eventually do away with the tax. Or give you a chance to vote on doing away with it.
I agree with “Mr. Holtville” Pete Mellinger who says the best way is to leave the tax in place as it is.
Only a handful of citizens are promoting its demise. There has been no major public outcry against this tax. And you won’t gain anything by doing away with it. The money for the programs it supports has to come from somewhere. Doing away with it will only weaken those services that are so basic to everyone’s well being.
Go to your utility bill and study it over. See if you can find the tax on it. It’s there if you search for it.
Then ask yourself if you would prefer to have less police and fire protection or a savings of a few cents on a bill that isn’t very big to begin with.
There are those who would want to turn back the clock and think you can still do that. Back to say, the 1950s. General Motors was king of the hill in the USA. “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country” was a popular slogan of the time. GM has gone through a bankruptcy and reorganization.
The Edsel was billed as the car of the future by Ford. It lasted 2 and a half years.
The point is everything keeps changing and if you don’t change with it, you dry up and blow away.
Holtville has kept pace through lots of diligent work by city officials to provide the city with a modern, efficient police department. It has also provided a fire department that can respond in a matter of minutes to an emergency and provides EMT service 24/7 too.
Don’t throw it out because of a small tax that doesn’t  cost you much of anything. If you’re the one needing emergency services, and you never know when you will, you want the best thing money can buy. This tax provides. Live long and prosper with it.
HOLTVILLE ALSO HAS A PROBLEM WITH DOGS AND CATS. Too many of them, it would seem are running around loose and without proper supervision.
This has resulted in traffic accidents involving animals, dogs menacing girl scouts and running around everywhere. There was even a family of felines holed up at our apartment complex.
So, how come Holtville doesn’t have a dog catcher? It used to have one. Apparently that task has been assigned to someone in public works. Nobody, including the city council, is sure of what’s happening with this.
Everybody wants something to be done with it, but nobody will act on it. C’mon City council people! Vote in a dog catcher. Everybody agrees we need one.
How much can it cost? The ‘We don’t have any money” excuse shouldn’t be applied here when it comes to the public good. Find the money. Or maybe the sheriff can do it for the city. How did that get overlooked in the $900,000 a year contract. we’re in favor of the Sheriff’s Dept. But let’s get the most for our money.
But don’t sweep it under the rug. That’s the way its going right now. It will be brought back for a few meetings and when no action is taken it will disappear from view again.  Hopefully no one will get chomped on by a pit bull on city property.


Weekly Chronicle 10-13-11


By Chris Furguson
For those north of Keystone, this weekend will provide a variety of entertainment and special interests.
Tonight, the Imperial County Chamber Mixer for October will take place at Pioneers Memorial Hospital, just one week prior to their annual Gala Dinner.  With the theme of “Fall into the Season,” the Chamber invites members to enjoy a “Taste of Brawley.”
This event begins at 5:30pm at the Pioneers Memorial Hospital on 207 West Legion Street in Brawley.
Friday, October 14th, sees the first half of the 2011 Brawley Cattle Call Queen’s competition.  The contestants, one for Queen and three for Teen Queen, will ride their steeds in the Horsemanship portion of the contest at the Brawley Cattle Call Arena.  This part, which will count towards the next evening’s Coronation ceremony, will have each contestant ride a pre-determined routine on their horse as well as a randomly drawn one.
The competition begins at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Brawley Cattle Call Arena.
The same evening will see the first home game of the Imperial Valley League football season, when the Brawley Wildcats take on the Imperial Tigers at Warne Field.  The Wildcats, who go into the game after wins against the Christian Patriots and the Coachella Valley Arabs and a loss against the Chula Vista Spartans.

The Wildcats, currently 3-2, will face off against the Tigers, also 3-2, who took wins against the Coachella Valley Arabs, the Parker Lancers (San Diego) and the Yucca Valley Trojans while losing against the Santana Sultans (Santee) and the Valley Center Jaguars.
Game time is slated to begin at 7 p.m.

Saturday, October 15th will see a plethora of activities for the civic minded person.
The first annual Amber Bryant Memorial 5k Walk/Run will take place at Jeff Thornton Park near Pioneer’s Memorial Hospital at 7 a.m. Proceeds from the event will go towards programs to prevent domestic violence and a trust fund for Bryant’s son Preston.
The memorial event will include a 5 km run and a 1 km fun walk and all registered walkers will received a T-shirt ranging from Small to X-large.
Later in the morning, at 10 am, the Brawley Fire Department will hold their 7th Annual Open House in honor of Fire Prevention Week at the Main Street Fire Station.
This will give kids and interested adults a chance to tour the fire station and show where their firefighters live and store their gear.  Activities for kids will include a smoke escape, fire hose practices and a demonstration of the Jaws of Life and other vehicle extraction tools.
This event will run until 2 pm.
At noon, a fundraiser for a young girl will occur at the Hidalgo Society’s Hall on the corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue and I Street.  Arianna Diaz was born without hip sockets, among other problems, and is scheduled for surgery on November 2.
The proceeds from the barbacoa plate fundraiser will go towards the surgery and the after care expenses.  All supplies and labor were donated, along with the music.
Beginning at 2 pm, a boxing exhibition hits the Brawley Union High School campus, the proceeds of which will go towards the Anthony Garcia Foundation, Between Women and the Westmorland PAL.
More information may be found on page 3 of the Weekly-Chronicle.
Finally, during the evening hours, the annual Cattle Call Queen Dinner and Coronation Ceremony will hit the Lions Center, starting at 5 p.m.
This event will consist of the Pageantry and Interview portions of the Queen’s Contest along with the Coronation.  The Little Miss Cattle Call girls will also take part in various activities during the evening as well.
A beef dinner will be provided and cocktails will be available during the first hour of the event.
Call Alexis at the Brawley Chamber (760-344- for more information about the competition.


By Mario Conde
The Calexico Planning Commission began looking at the long awaited Calexico Grand Plaza Outlet Center  project Monday night.
The development has been in the works for many years now and the proposed project will be located on Second Street in Calexico with brand name stores. The Grand Plaza project consists of a 487,600 square foot retail outlet center that would have brand names stores in what is to be the new downtown area next to the new port of entry that will open in 2013. Three years ago, the Redevelopment Agency approved the sale of the UFW Building and the Horacio Luna Gun club.
The project applicant (Charles Company) proposes to develop the site with a total of approximately 561,650 square feet of commercial/retail uses. To accomplish this, the project requires a general plan amendment to change the land use classification from industrial to commercial highway, a zone change for the portions of the site that are currently zoned open space and industrial to commercial highway, a tentative subdivision tract map to divide the project site into six parcels, development review approval subject to the Municipal Code, West 2nd Street road re-alignment and widening, and an Owner Participation and Disposition and Development Agreement with the City of Calexico Redevelopment Agency.
The construction process for the proposed project would consist of two phases. The first phase of
construction would include the development of 12 buildings with approximately 241,625 square
feet of building area and a storage/maintenance building with 6,400 square feet. Phase I would be developed on the eastern side of the project site and is proposed for construction. Phase II would include the development of 12 buildings with approximately 320,025 square feet of building area and a storage/maintenance building with approximately 6,400 square feet on the western side of the project site. Construction of Phase II is proposed to begin and end within six years of the Phase I construction start date.
The project applicant’s goal is to construct an upscale outlet retail center mixed with conventional large-scale retail uses. The project design clusters the retail stores in a central location with a “runway” layout for ease of access and includes flexibility to allow for tenants of various sizes. The project would include areas for a food court and out parcels that could accommodate sit-down restaurants.
City Staff asked the Board to continue the public hearing of the Grand Plaza to January 2012 as per the request of the R.H. Properties, LLC that represent the Grand Plaza project in order to provide necessary additional time to resolve remaining issues regarding the update of the Traffic Impact Analysis prepared by infrastructure engineers.

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