A motion to receive and accept the 2020-2021 Audit Report passed unanimously

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. It was preceded by the City Council’s closed session.

The evening’s agenda passed unanimously, as did the consent calendar, which featured the Jan. 11 Draft Action Minutes and the September 2021 Investment Report.

The City Manager of Atascadero, Richelle Rickard, addressed the Council. 

Getting through this together, Atascadero

This Friday, Jan. 28, a City Council Special Economic Development workshop from 1 to 5 p.m., and from 6 to 9 p.m., there will be a General Plan Scoping Session held by the City Council and Planning Commission.

“Both sessions will be held virtually, and the public is highly encouraged to join and participate,” said Rickard.

There was a public hearing for the removal of a hazardous Heritage Coast Live Oak. The Council was asked by the property owner to continue the item to the Feb. 22 meeting—no public comment was made regarding the tree’s removal. There was a motion to continue the item to the upcoming Feb. 22 meeting. It passed.

Administrative Services Director, Jeri Rangel, gave the Council a management report on the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Audit. “The auditors agreed that financial statements were presented fairly and in compliance with the county principles. The city’s financial performance was positive overall,” said Rangel. A motion to receive and accept the 2020-2021 Audit Report passed unanimously.

Atascadero Fire Chief, Casey Bryson then addressed the Council on applying for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant. If awarded to the city, the SAFER Grant would reimburse the City for three new firefighters for three years. The total of the grant coming to an estimated 1.5 million dollars. The grant is administered by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is a competitive nationwide grant to help fire departments improve staffing levels. 

“Atascadero has applied and received SAFER Grants in the past, [in] 2011, and most recently in 2018,” said Bryson.

The Atascadero Fire Department currently has 18 full-time firefighters on shift, with three shifts of six each, with three firefighters at each station. 

“If we applied and received this grant, there’s no indication that we would for sure receive the three, but if we did, that would add one [firefighter] per shift, for a total of seven. That does not necessarily increase our minimum staffing. We would still maintain the six,” added Bryson. “Adding one person, adding that seventh firefighter will allow us to protect the six on duty at all times. When one firefighter is off for a vacation or injury, that seventh firefighter will be able to cover the majority of those overtime shifts. So instead of bringing someone on overtime from another shift, that seventh firefighter will be able to cover a majority of those. In most cases, I think 50 to 75 percent of the time, depending on the capability of the other members on that crew.”

The Recommendation to the Council was to authorize the Fire Chief to apply for the grant and the City Manager to execute a SAFER grant contract. Councilmember Bourbeau motioned to approve applying for the grant, with a second by Mayor Pro Tem Newsom. The motion passed unanimously.

The next Atascadero City Council meeting will be held on Tues., Feb. 8, at 6 p.m.