City denies SVMC increase in Farmers Market budget

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting brought a lively debate on the partnership between the City and Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC) for the Farmers Market.

The City and SVMC have partnered together to host a Farmers Market on Tuesday mornings since 2016. This Farmers Market is a certified Farmers Market, meaning that only certified farmers can sell their produce. The purpose of the market is to engage children in healthy eating and allow access to fresh fruit and vegetables for lower income families.

In previous years, SVMC has requested funds from City Council ranging from $10,000 to $15,500. A requested increase to $19,754.36 was presented to the Council for consideration Tuesday night, which resulted in a diverse conversation with many concerns from Council members.

During discussion, the Council brought up the fact that SVMC has requested an increase in the Farmers Market budget two out of the three years of their partnership, but have seen very little growth and development of the market. 

Mayor Martha Flores stated that she did not see any changes in the budget to where the money would go, and couldn’t understand the request for additional funds for this reason. 

Council member Brian Ward stressed his concern with the target audience, and how the current forms of advertising are not drawing in those targeted crowds. 

Council member Monte Reyes stated that he has seen the market working, but doesn’t feel that additional funds are needed, and suggested that the Council keep the allotted amount for the Farmer’s Market at $15,500.

Ultimately, the decision of the Council was to keep the budgeted amount at $15,500 for the Farmer’s Market. This motion passed with a vote of 4-1, with Ward as the only dissenting vote.

Two presentations were made to the Council during the evening. The first concerned the City’s annual financial report, which received the highest markings available. The second came with a loud round of applause, as the Council recognized a handful of volunteers that aided in the annual Project Homeless Connect event and collected data for the point in time count on the homeless population in Porterville.

The Council relayed routine information on various meetings each representative has recently attended. A highlight was Reyes’ report on the Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee. Reyes and fellow Council member Daniel Penaloza took a trip to Valley Pure, a recreational marijuana dispensary in Woodlake, and reported that the facility exceed any expectations they had. Reyes said they observed the business operations, gained knowledge of the industry, and received a brief tour of a future cultivation site under construction, which he said was technologically advanced and sophisticated.

Following Council reports, City Commission and Committee reports commenced.

Allen Bailey, a member of the Library and Literacy Commission, approached the stand and briefed the Council on the INNTERNECT presentations for future library ideas. He also invited the Council to join the library in celebration of Dr.Seuss’ birthday on March 2.

Donna Serna of the Arts Commission told the Council that they have recruited two new members. She stated that the commission is working on an application for the annual Iris Festival, and revealed that an Arts Festival is in the works for this fall.

Oral communications was opened, and three speakers approached the podium to address the Council. 

The first speakers were a concerned couple who were questioning why they keep receiving citations on their county property. The couple stated that they have brought this to the Council twice before, and thought that it had been taken care of. Flores told the couple that she would look in to their complaint.

The final speaker for the night was Grace Munoz-Rios, who extended an invitation to the Council to “A Night of Salsa” on March 16 at Valley Adult Day Services.

The nine items on the consent calendar were quickly approved with a vote of 5-0.

Only one public hearing was on the agenda, and it concerned a minor conditional use permit for Eddie’s Doghouse, a dog grooming business on Main Street. Although the permit was approved, Stowe expressed his concern about dog’s relieving themselves on the sidewalks of Main Street. He was slightly relieved to hear that a condition for the permit is to periodically check the streets and sidewalks for animal waste throughout the day. 

Before the meeting was adjourned, Penaloza congratulated the Porterville Police Department on the two newest additions to their force.

Ward suggested that a library representative attend kindergarten registrations to engage families, and help bring more residents to the library.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for March 5. Look for a brief of the agenda in The Recorder within the next couple of weeks.

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