At Tuesday night's meeting of the Porterville City Council, the dais discussed which interests would be of priority for the city for the upcoming 2021 state legislative session.

City staff was recently contacted by the office of Senator Melissa Hurtado, requesting that the city submit their state budgetary and legislative interests before January 19, 2021.

“This is kind've unique,” said City Manager John Lollis. “The Senator has asked for you to share with her what your budgetary or legislative interests are so that, as she is beginning the next legislative session, there may be points of legislation and/or budget requests that she makes on behalf of the city.”

In the past, the city's interests have included grant funding for the following: the City's transition to tertiary treatment recycled water, local water system consolidations, a new library and community center, enhanced funding in support of homeless housing and support services, and the State's determination of the reuse of the Porterville Developmental Center.

On Tuesday night, Council member Milt Stowe stated that he'd like to keep all of the previous interests as priorities to send to Senator Hurtado, but placed funding for the City's transition to tertiary treatment recycled water as his number one priority. The dais seemed to agree that funding for the transition to tertiary treatment recycled water should be the main priority, but Council member Daniel Penaloza stated that he would like to see funding for anything related to parks added into the letter for submission to the Senator.

While this item required no vote, it was concluded that a draft letter to Senator Hurtado would be presented at the next Council meeting for approval, and will include all of the priorities the Council has had in the past, as well as the addition of funding for parks.

During their meeting on Tuesday, the Council also reappointed four members to the Transactions and Use Tax Oversight Committee (TUTOC). After six terms on the committee expired, four members whose terms had ended requested reappointment.

Margaret Stinson, John Billiou, Janice Kovars, and Joshua Sulier were all reappointed to their seats on TUTOC, with Billiou sitting on TUTOC for the only available two-year term. The other three members were reappointed to four-year terms.

With four members reappointed, there are still two open seats on TUTOC. The Council directed city staff to advertise for the remaining two vacancies. To be eligible for appointment, individuals must either be a Porterville resident, business owner, or business operator.

To round off the regular meeting of the Porterville City Council, the dais unanimously agreed to continue the Proclamation of Local Emergency due to COVID-19. While the choice was a quick and easy one for the Council to make, Council member Virginia Gurrola urged the community to wear their masks and not to gather in large public groups.

“(COVID) passes very quickly to one another and I don't understand why people don't want to protect one another,” said Gurrola. “I wear this mask to protect you. Really, the solution is in our hands, of course with God's help. Somebody told me that God is going to protect us, and it's true, but he also wants us to do our part. Our part is to wear the mask, social distance and don't go to parties and gather. That's our responsibility, and we need to adhere to it or we are never going to get out of this.”

The next Porterville City Council meeting is scheduled for December 15, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be streamed live via the City of Porterville's YouTube channel.

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