The Fortuna City Council approved the purchase and acquisition of land located at 2600 and 2650 Rohnerville Road for a new building for the Fortuna Police Department at last night’s city council meeting. Also on the agenda were budget predictions for the city, and the awarding of a construction project to RAO Construction for a total of $649,000 to provide updates to parking lots, walkways, crosswalk striping and other projects near South Fortuna Elementary.
The land for the new police building consists of two parcels, with one valued at $625,000 and the other at $175,000. However, the owner of 2650 Rohnerville Road, Ralph Lindstrom, decided to sell the property to the City for $95,000, essentially gifting the rest of the value of the land to Fortuna. The combined cost of the two parcels is $720,000 and, according to City documents, a new police facility is much needed.
“It has been recognized for some time that the existing police facility is too small to accommodate the future needs for the Fortuna Police Department,” the Staff Report reads.
Back in 2007, Fortuna issued revenue bonds that were partially used to purchase property at 280 12th Street to be used for a future police facility. However, that property was deemed to be “too costly to proceed with,” and was sold in 2019. The purchasing of the new parcels has been in the works for about eight months, and the motion to allow the Fortuna City Clerk to accept the property passed unanimously. And so, FoPD, it looks like you’re getting a new home!
When it came to awarding the construction bid to RAO Construction for those road improvements, City Manager Merritt Perry said Fortuna received four bids for the project. Those four bids ranged from $630,085.50 to a little over $1 million dollars. RAO came in with the lowest bid and won out. For the cost estimation of the project, Fortuna estimated the total cost of the project to be around $750,000 and confirmed with GHD, an engineering firm, that RAO’s bid was up to the task and sufficient to get the job done.
The new upgrades are part of the Safe Routes to School Project, and construction is set to begin in early June. However, with kids being home from school due to COVID-19, the project may start sooner.
Perry provided the council with projected budget hits due to COVID-19. He said Fortuna is looking at a $400,000 to $500,000 reduction in its general fund. He said Measure E funds for Fortuna are expected to be down $60,000, sales tax revenue is supposed to be down anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 and the transient-occupancy-tax is projected to be down almost $200,000. Perry worked closely with Fortuna’s finance director to get a grasp on what impacts the pandemic may have.
“We’re monitoring legislative efforts by the national league of cities and others to secure funding for local agencies to secure funding in direct payments to offset costs and reductions in revenue as a result of the pandemic,” Perry said during the meeting.
Perry also mentioned that he is aware of people in Fortuna struggling to make ends meet when it comes to securing food. He said he will be reaching out to the public to get a better understanding of the need. He also said that Fortuna will continue to take precautions necessary to combat COVID-19.
“We intend to keep the precautionary measures in place until we have consensus from local and state health officials that we can discontinue,” Perry said.
A little later in the meeting, Councilmember Dean Glaser said he would like to begin to have the discussion about opening certain sectors of the economy. He pointed to how the restrictions have been working and felt it necessary to at least start the conversation about what opening up would look like.
“It would still have an essence of protection that will allow businesses to open, restaurants and food locations to open,” Glaser said. “We could pick and choose what was obligatory still for the safety of the public.”
At this point, Fortuna Mayor Sue Long questioned if they were even able to go against state orders and deferred to Perry.
“The council could put an agenda item on and we could discuss it, but I think our options are limited,” Perry said. “We fall under the County Public Health Order and so it is unlikely we could do something that would be outside of those orders.”
But Perry said having the discussion would not hurt. Glaser then spoke about some of his own personal ailments and how having the teleconferences were a bit cumbersome for him because he has to use his partner’s phone. He expressed his love for America and everyone it — “God bless America, God bless everybody in this country” — and how we all need to continue to work together.
“[If] one person breaks training, everyone gets affected negatively,” Glaser said in reference to shelter in place orders before saying he is ready for it to end but not without a plan.
After Glaser spoke, Councilmember Mike Johnson gave his rundown on what he has been doing for the city. He said a handful of conferences were canceled, but he was able to attend one with the League of Cities in California. He said there was talk of a sales tax holiday for businesses making under $1 million dollars. Johnson said a number of representatives during the meeting expressed their concerns that this effort was not enough for some of their constituents, but Johnson felt that it would be very beneficial for the businesses in Fortuna.
Johnson also spoke about his deep appreciation of those on the front lines of COVID-19, especially the grocery store workers, gas station attendants and other businesses that make society run.
Councilmember Jeremy Stanfield’s update also included cancelled meetings and his appreciation of those working hard to combat hunger in Fortuna. He said he saw a Fortuna High School van out providing meals to people in need.
“It is something that they are doing that isn’t seen and makes a big difference to a lot of people,” Stanfield said. “I am real proud of our community, real proud of our high school for taking care of their students.”
Mayor Pro Tem Tami Trent’s update was also brief. She has been volunteering with a food delivery service to bring food to Redwood Memorial Hospital.
Mayor Sue Long closed out the meeting. She kept it short and sweet with nothing substantial to add other than her sign off.
“Thank you all for being a part of our city, for staying safe, for doing what we need to do to get through this,” Long said. “We are all in this together. Good night.”