Archer questioned the candidates on City transparency, budget, CalPERS, bringing in new businesses, trailer park, and how to improve community spirit.
Carla didn’t feel the City had been transparent and felt the council has been divided. Regarding the City budget, Carla felt it should go “old school” to see where everything was going and thought with the right panel it could be done. Carla didn’t know all about CalPERS but said it was definitely important and stated those people need their retirement. Under questions about how to bring more businesses to Loyalton, Carla said businesses in Loyalton are struggling to make it and felt until the City can bring in revenue to survive, she didn’t see any new businesses coming.
Carla would like to see the trailer park become part of the City and would like to see it cleaned up. She thought more rules applied would help people become accountable. She said the trailer park doesn’t’ give Loyalton a good feeling when coming into town from that side. To bring about more community spirit, Carla felt the community was wonderful in time of tragedies, but need to come together in other ways. She said there needed to be more activities for kids.
Jason said transparency is “pretty big”, and felt there was a big need. He said there should be more community involvement, with no special meetings at noon. He stated there were too many secrets. Under question about the budget, Jason felt the City needed a new system so they can control proper procedure. He said it wouldn’t get grants if the City can’t spend money the way it is supposed to. Regarding CalPERS, Jason said they need to take care of their employees and their retirement. He felt there were a lot of meetings that nobody knows about and didn’t want the City to go into bankruptcy. Jason likened the trailer park to having the “wild west in our community.” He lives right next to the trailer park, and said the criminal element was not good and people aren’t paying rent, adding it was one of the worst things he has seen. Jason hopes for a quick sale and to have real management. To improve community spirit, Jason thought they should do something for Loyalton to bring something to Loyalton, adding they need to work on the bicyclists, calling them “healthy people with healthy minds.”
Nancy was not familiar with the Brown Act, and thought the City wasn’t working as a unit, only working as individuals and would like to see that change. Regarding the budget, Nancy felt the City was taking money from other places and didn’t see it being replaced. She gave an example where the City was taking from the general fund to support the museum. Nancy felt donations should go toward the museum instead of taking from the general fund. From the audience, curator Jackie Mitchell, said she doesn’t make any money on the museum and hasn’t spent any from the general fund, adding money is sent to the City for the museum from donors. Nancy agreed with the rest of the candidates regarding CalPERS that they need to protect the people and their retirement. She said the City needed to find a way to get the retirement employees have worked their lives for. To bring in more businesses, Nancy said she and her brother bought Timberline Auto Parts and felt they were receiving a lot more business than before and getting customers from all over. She said she supports the businesses here. Regarding the trailer park, Nancy would like to see the State step in and make many of the trailers livable, and felt they needed to bring some type of management in there. To improve community spirit, Nancy said the City has a very lovely stage that doesn’t get used. She has a lot of expertise with concert set up and thought that would be a good start.
Brooks thought a monthly newsletter would help improve transparency, adding the City doesn’t have very good attendance at meetings and would like to improve on this if re-elected. Regarding the budget, Brooks said they need to be spend thrifty. He said there were about six different general fund monies to cover, which includes the fire department, museum, park, and graveyard. He stated the City doesn’t have the revenue source with the population drop. Brooks said Loyalton is a small city with not a whole lot of expertise and stated volunteers were the best thing going for the City. During the CalPERS discussion, Brooks said most meetings have been done in closed session and stated the City is in the process with CalPERS to come up with a payment plan. He stated there were lawyer negotiations going on, to try to negotiate the settlement, adding they were not trying to hide anything. Archer told the audience it was not uncommon for closed sessions with potential litigation. Brooks stressed that the City protects its employees 100%, adding they are not going to hang anybody out without retirement. To bring new businesses here, Brooks said East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce is working with different parts of the community and a new bed and breakfast business was just purchased. He said there were other potential businesses but hard to do with out the economic base here. Brooks stated improvements to the museum have tripled the traffic. He said the City would like the trailer park problem solved. Brooks stated it owes over $200,000 and hasn’t received payment in over a year. He said they tried to shut the water off, but with elderly and young children there, he felt their hands were tied. He was hoping the State would help, adding everyone who lives in Loyalton knows that park is not worth $260,000. Brooks said they were giving $5,000 a month away in water. To improve community spirit, Brooks thinks the Eastern Chamber does a good job as does Rotary, and the school, adding different functions come together to move in the right direction. He concluded that it takes money to make money and the City is very low on money.
Genelle agreed with everyone regarding transparency and felt updating the system, would give the City more accountability with the budget. She didn’t know all the issues going on with CalPERS, but felt it was important they get it settled. Regarding bringing businesses here, she has seen the repercussions from the bicycles and they spend a lot of money in Loyalton. Genelle felt they needed to give a little to get something back and wanted events. She said Loyalton used to have street dances and Timberfest and stressed the need to bring people from the outside in. Genelle called the trailer park a “nightmare.” She said it used to be a nice place, and now it was awful. Genelle stated a lot of people couldn’t afford a lot of rent and would like to see low income housing which she said went by income and is State run. Genelle didn’t have an answer to community spirit as she doesn’t feel very welcome sometimes, so couldn’t imagine how someone outside the community would feel. She did add the need to put energy in to the youth.
Krystin felt they should reach out to the younger community members with Facebook to help make the City more transparent. She called CalPERS “very complicated and unfortunate.” Krystin said a court date was set and best thing they could do is to work together. Regarding bringing in more business, Krystin said they must support local businesses first and maybe talk to some businesses in Truckee to see if they want to branch out this way. She said the trailer park is very dear to her heart as her grandparents and mom live there and she was raised there. Krystin stated they should do whatever they could to find a solution, adding there are businesses that buy trailer parks to refurbish. To improve community spirit Krystin said to talk to the kids and reach out to people to see what their ideas are.
From the audience, City Councilmember Pat Whitley told the candidates that there weren’t a lot of places to build and asked how they would find a way to increase the tax base, so the City has more funding. Brooks said they would have to get to a mutual agreement with the County, adding the County didn’t want to lose the revenue either. Janelle suggested having a ranch bring in a pumpkin patch. Nancy didn’t know much about it but felt the co-gen area would be good to have. Krystin sees a lot of empty lots and old houses that could be bought with new people coming in. Jason said they needed the mill property and taxes from the apartments. He stated the County was robbing them and have been doing it for a long time. Carla said to get a hold of the land that isn’t being utilized and use that.
Don Russell, from the audience, asked the panel how they would educate themselves to be ready to govern. Carla would go to the city and look up records. Jason said by going to the meetings and asking a lot of questions and learning the proper procedure. Nancy would have to go back to see how all these problems started. Janelle would educate herself and Krystin said attend meetings, and research at the library and internet. Archer asked Brooks if the City of Loyalton supports its new council persons to go to governance classes. Brooks said the City is more than willing for new council members to go to those classes.
Don Russsell also asked how the candidates would be personally accountable. Krystin believes everyone needs to be honest and have integrity. She said there was no problem with admitting to being wrong, but if you make a mistake, own up to it. Genelle said you should be accountable for everything you do in your life. Brooks stated the city council votes as a whole not to pick out one person to say you did something wrong. Nancy said to stand up and be honest. Jason stated to get more people involved and watching. Carla will hold herself accountable to do her very best and will stick to what she believes.
Audience member Phyllis DeMartini asked if the candidates were all willing to devote the time that is more than $49.50 a month worth. She said it is a volunteer job and takes a lot of time. Phyllis asked if they were going to have to have the time to devote, adding it is a lot of work, and hoped they all realize the commitment. They all responded that they did.
In conclusion of the evening, Mayor Mark Marin gave all the candidates a warm welcome by stating they would step into office with a hell of a lot more problems than they could all imagine.