BARSTOW • Councilman Willie Hailey Sr. was absent. Among items discussed at Monday's City Council meeting:
Council OKs PR firm for DesertXpress • The Barstow City Council voted 3-1 to approve a $21,000 contract between the city and Public Management Advisors for public relations services in connection with the high speed train between Victorville and Las Vegas. Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez dissented.
Public Management Advisors will attempt to raise awareness about the DesertXpress's train's negative impacts to Barstow. It will send press releases and pitch stories to local media and attempt to position Barstow as an environmental and economic advocate.
Community and Economic Development Director Ron Rector said the firm will also contact cities such as Anaheim and Ontario to get them to support Barstow's opposition to DesertXpress.
Anaheim and Ontario as well as Barstow stood to benefit from another high speed train proposal, the maglev train, which would have connected Disneyland with Las Vegas. The maglev train included a stop in Barstow, but would need to be funded by government dollars.
DesertXpress would not include a stop in Barstow. City officials estimate that because of the traffic developers claim the train will divert from Interstate 15, Barstow could lose about $1.3 million a year in sales tax revenue.
At its Sept. 20 meeting, the Council hired an economist to prepare a study on DesertXpress for the city to submit to the Federal Railroad Administration at public hearings in Las Vegas and Barstow.
Council accepts $2 million federal grant for wastewater plant • The Barstow City Council unanimously accepted a federal Economic Development Administration grant of $2 million to pay for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. The Council also appropriated an additional $500,000 from a wastewater reclamation facility bond to pay for the upgrades.
The funds will be used to replace 50-year-old equipment, which will cause the city's energy and maintenance costs to decrease, Rector said. He plans to hire a project manager to oversee the plant's upgrade and go out to bid early next year.
Management assistant for finance department discussed • The City Council tabled approval of a part-time management assistant for the finance department, directing its finance director to research the cost of contracting the position out.
The annual cost for filling the position would be $22,500.
Finance Director Terri Willoughby said the assistant would help research, develop and write financial policies, help write staff reports and help review and analyze revenues and expenditures. The assistant would also help the finance department with special projects.
If approved, the start-date for the new position would be Jan. 1, Willoughby said. The position is currently temporary. Willoughby said she would bring it back to the Council for a recommendation near the end of the fiscal year if the city needed the position beyond June 30, 2011.
Harvey House, bus use for Rail and Craft Fair • The Barstow City Council unanimously authorized MV Transportation to provide bus service for those attending the Western American Railroad Museum's Rail and Craft fest by train and those traveling on the special train to Kelso Depot.
The Council also approved using the second floor of the Harvey House for a beer and wine pavilion during the rail fest hosted by the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce.
The buses will transport visitors to and from the Harvey House for the rail fest. Visitors will also be touring the BNSF railyard and Main Street's murals on Oct. 16. On Oct. 17, the buses will take visitors staying at the Hampton Inn to the Harvey House to catch the special train to Kelso Depot.
Harvey House donation form approved • The Council unanimously approved the donation form for people to donate funds and items to the Harvey House Foundation. This will allow the Harvey House Fundraising Committee to receive and categorize the foundation's gifts and donations.