BY RIC McGINNIS
It’s that time of year again for the Riverbank City Council. At its meeting on Tuesday, June 26, the council took care of a number of yearly housekeeping type actions and extended its freeze on new applications for cannabis dispensaries for another six months.
The pot moratorium was first established in January 2018, but was set to expire at the end of June. Last week, the council approved the extension for another six months.
According to staff reports, the “moratorium on new dispensaries gives the City Council the opportunity to review and assess the two (2) approved cannabis dispensaries to ensure the public peace, health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.”
The city has not been accepting any new applications or processing the one application that has currently been on hold.
A dispensary named Flavors, on Patterson Road near Oakdale Road opened in March, and is being studied for potential effects on Riverbank residents.
The second dispensary (Riverbank Wellness) is to be located in the original historic King Hotel on Third Street downtown, next to City Hall South. They have been working on plans for tenant improvements to their building, according to the Planning Department, and it has yet to open. The application has been on hold since the moratorium was established, but they say its location recently received Architectural Site Plan Review approval for a retail shell there.
Also, it was reported that staff processed a deposit refund for another dispensary applicant who withdrew his application at the beginning of the moratorium.
Since Flavors began operations mid-March, it has made three Public Benefit payments to the city, totaling over $75,000.
In other business at the session, the council (and LRA Board) approved its preliminary 2018-19 operating budgets that went into effect July 1. The city budget bottom line includes an anticipated ending balance with a 16 percent reserve, almost $1.5 million, of a total of $9,423,300, an increase of 1.1 percent over last year.
The LRA Board (Council) approved a budget with a projected balance of $72,775, up two percent over last year.
Assistant City Manager/Director of Finance Marisela Garcia noted that one of the upcoming projects that is to be funded is the construction of stoplights at the intersection of Roselle Avenue and Claribel Road.
She said, “It is anticipated that a Final Operating Budget will be presented to the City Council by September 2018.”
The council also held public hearings and approved the Engineer’s Reports and levied the annual assessments in the city’s Lighting and Landscaping Districts for Fiscal Year 2018-19, as well as local Storm Drain Maintenance Districts.
And the council accepted a Memorandum of Understanding with the city’s Miscellaneous Employees Bargaining Unit, establishing salaries and benefits for the coming two years.