Labor contracts, consultant contracts and a $161 million water project are among the discussions on the Fresno city council agenda for tomorrow (March 23).

Already, neighborhood groups are forming to voice their thoughts on the expansion of the Northeast Water Surface Treatment Plant.  They city wants to double its capacity to produce water (from 30 million gallons a day to 60) by 2035. The plan, as part a complicated formula, will charge developers $4246 per single family residence.

This is the same plant that caused the discoloration of water in homes in northeast Fresno shortly after going online in 2004. It wasn’t until 2016 that City Hall claims it became aware of the problem and took action. There were also concerns of lead in the water. The EPA this year sent the state a letter, saying the city complied with its lead standards, but needed improvements in monitoring.

The group Fresno Citizens for Clean Water is urging neighbors to attend the hearing (tentatively scheduled for 10:15 a.m.). “I think it is time for our group to send a strong message to Fresno City Hall that we aren’t going away just because they are spending millions on fancy consultants and lawyers who are working overtime to say this is all ‘our fault” the group writes.

[Disclosure: Granville Homes, parent company of GV Wire, is also opposing the fees. This story is not subject to Granville Homes approval]

Other items on the agenda include a change to the city’s labor hiring contract for a $70 million proposed public works project. The amendment to the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) approved last December would extend the hiring agreement to off-site fabrication work on sheet metal work.

The money comes from a state grant derived from Cap & Trade funds. Although no project has been specified, Fresno’s leaders have stated in the past to use the funds to build projects in and around the high speed rail locations in downtown Fresno.

Another amendment deals with drug testing covering ironworkers. The cost, according to the amendment, would “be covered through the Ironworkers IMPACT fund, saving cost to the project, while providing the same or greater level of required testing.”

Kevin Dayton, a labor policy expert with Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, says this deal isn’t as cost savings as it seems. Ironworkers already pay into the IMPACT fund as part of the prevailing wage rate they earn through public works projects.

Dayton is also curious as to why Lyft, Inc., the ride-sharing company, is a signer of the agreement. According to a Lyft spokesperson, the city clerk’s office and staff from the office of councilman Oliver Baines (who sponsors the amendments), Lyft’s inclusion was a typo and will be corrected.

At 3 p.m., the city will hear a presentation from the League of Cities regarding Prop 64, the voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana. Councilman Garry Bredefeld has vowed to block stores from selling recreation pot in town. That hearing is scheduled for April 27.

The council will also weigh in on two state bills: AB 199 (expanding the prevailing wage rate for construction workers to private home projects) and SB 54, the proposed law to make California a sanctuary state.

Already, Mayor Lee Brand has officially come out against AB 199, which opponents have called not only a job killer, but could raise home prices out of reach for most Californians. Supporters say it is about extending fair wages on more public works projects at the local level.

Councilman Steve Brandau is spearheading the fight against SB 54. He says if it passes, the state and Fresno would risk losing federal funding.  On Twitter, councilwoman Esmeralda Soria wrote “Sad times in Fresno! This is so divisive.”

Two consultant contracts previously discussed at council return. At the March 9 meeting, led by Bredefeld, the council rejected awarding a $139,000 to Clements Environmental Corporation to help locate a site for a proposed dumping facility. Despite the contract failing two weeks prior (on a 3-3 vote; Soria was absent), the Department of Public Utilities is bringing a refined version back for approval.

At the prior meeting, Bredefeld indicated support for the drop-off center itself, but questioned why a consultant was needed to help select a site and conduct community outreach. The new proposal still includes site selection responsibilities, but now makes public outreach optional, at a cost of $15,000.

The other consultant contract, initially brought up March 16 and delayed for a week, deals with expanding a consultant contract with The Solis Group of Pasadena. The contract, originally negotiated in 2015, would pay Solis and additional $48,230 for additional workforce labor data on the Southeast Surface Water Treatment Facility, currently under construction.

Contact David Taub

Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail

This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.

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