Following are highlights from the Dec. 12 Los Altos Hills City Council meeting. The next council meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at town hall, 26375 W. Fremont Road.
Sheriff’s contract renewed
Councilmembers voted unanimously to renew the town’s contract with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for another five years when the existing contract expires June 30. The decision recognized the services the Sheriff’s Office provides the community – at a price no other model could beat.
“The service we’ve been getting has been absolutely incredible,” said Councilman John Harpootlian of the Sheriff’s Office’s patrols, emergency response and investigative services. “We’ve asked for investigations and they’ve always been accommodating … more than expected.”
Town staff and the Los Altos Hills Finance and Investment Committee researched the costs of law enforcement in neighboring cities and determined that the contract with the Sheriff’s Office was the most effective and efficient choice for the town. The Sheriff’s Office will provide services at a cost of $122 per capita in Los Altos Hills for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the lowest cost for services among all communities served by the office. Law enforcement services in Los Altos are projected to cost $312 per person for the same period.
Total law enforcement service costs in Los Altos Hills are budgeted at approximately 15.77 percent of the town’s general fund budget, or $1 million for fiscal year 2014. The Sheriff’s Office has served the town of Los Altos Hills since its incorporation in 1956.
Torch passes to Radford
Gifts, gavels and a few speeches marked the council’s transition to a new mayor and vice mayor for 2014. In a unanimous vote, the council selected Vice Mayor John Radford to serve as mayor for the next one-year term. Radford has served on the council since 2010. Councilwoman Courtenay C. Corrigan will serve as vice mayor next year.
Outgoing mayor Gary Waldeck recognized his wife, town staff and the teamwork of his council colleagues for making 2013 rewarding. Waldeck highlighted achievements accomplished during his leadership, including the incorporation of 17 private roads, completion of the Safe Route to Los Altos Hills Schools project and efforts to make the town one of the safest communities in the state.
Radford outlined his goals for the coming year, emphasizing a desire to ensure the town’s ongoing solvency.
“As we look to the next year, I think first and foremost that we want to maintain the financial health of the town,” said Radford of an impending surge in pension and infrastructure costs and his desire to identify new sources of revenue. “We can look at not just breaking even, but investing more in our town.”
Maintaining town assets, including streets, pathways and West- wind Community Barn, is also on Radford’s agenda for 2014.
“I want to look at how we interface with residents to make sure that we’re doing the absolute best we can,” he said.
New management to take reins at Westwind
It’s been a long year for Westwind Community Barn supporters, who have anxiously awaited a resolution to the facility’s financial challenges and loss of a barn manager last summer. A smoother ride may be on the horizon.
Councilmembers are scheduled to award the contract for most barn operations Jan. 16 to one of two vendors vetted as finalists by an ad hoc subcommittee. Torie Dye of Fremont Hills Country Club and Laura Stevens of Heather Hill Riding Academy are under consideration to manage commercial boarding, Parks and Recreation riding programs, Pacific Ridge Pony Club horse leasing, facility scheduling, private lessons and some portions of the 4-H equine services.
During the next several weeks, the town will work with the finalists to complete financial worksheets and draft contract agreements. The selected vendor is scheduled to take the reins by Feb. 1.
As no potential vendors would agree to assume full financial risk for barn operations – one of the reasons councilmembers dismissed a concessionaire model as a solution – the town will continue to subsidize the barn in 2014. City Manager Carl Cahill estimated that the subsidy would total between $100,000 and $150,000.
“I think we hope to break even, but it might be a three-year timeline,” Radford said.
The town also plans to hire a consultant eight hours a month to provide oversight and advice to the council.
Committee recommends two sculptures
The Los Altos Hills Art in Public Places Committee launched only recently, but offers to donate art to the town are flowing in. Councilmembers accepted the first two public sculpture donations earlier this month, pending a review of their proposed locations.
The first sculpture will honor the memory of Los Altos Hills artist and sculptor Jean Birkland McCandless. The McCandless children of Los Altos donated an 11-foot bright-blue, aluminum sculpture titled “Blue,” valued at $35,000, for installation at the edge of the parking lot at Los Altos Hills Town Hall.
The second sculpture is a 9-foot-by-2-foot mixed-medium, modern abstract sculpture donated by Maryam and Jonathan Dickey of Los Altos Hills. Designed by Rob Matthews and Leslie Guinan of Hidden Spring Designs, the sculpture is proposed for placement in the lobby of town hall.
– Ellie Van Houtte