Interim City Manager Thomas Haglund opened a discussion on the proposed Market Plan with updates on the staff’s meeting with Assemblyman Jim Cooper on legislation that could “modify” existing Assembly Bill 3773, which restricts any proceeds from the Galt Market going to anything but the Parks and Recreation Department. The bill was passed in 1982 after concerns that market funds were being used in other areas.

Haglund said the 44 acres was deeded over to the city approximately 50 years ago.

“In 2005, the market hit a high with $3.5 million in revenue,” Haglund said. “Since then, we have lost about $1 million in market revenues.”

Haglund said the trend of losing revenue continues.

“It’s time to reevaluate how that property is used to generate revenue for Parks and Rec,” Haglund said.

A partnership with private companies should be looked at, according to Haglund.

“We need more flexibility for how it’s used,” he said, “(looking at) a partnership where we could generate as much revenue as now and not as much expense.”

Haglund emphasized council was not being asked to consider selling the property.

Council member Shawn Farmer said he had questions and concerns about the plan.

“I’ve really not seen anything about what’s being proposed,” Farmer said. “There’s really no market plan. I want to see what’s being proposed.”

Farmer was also concerned with wording in the report about “transferring ownership.”

“Transferring ownership sounds the same to me as selling it,” Farmer said. “We’re not getting clear answers. It still generates more revenue than the whole property tax revenues.”

Farmer went on to say that he was just hearing that staff was meeting with Assemblyman Jim Cooper to get help with new legislation.

“I don’t know what staff members met with him,” Farmer said. “Did someone say the city wants to change the legislation?”

Council member Curt Campion said staff was just doing their jobs and seeing if it’s possible to change the legislation.

Vice Mayor Rich Lozano also had concerns.

“If this isn’t going to work for the community, then I’ll vote ‘no thank you,’” Lozano said. “I also have a responsibility to the public to look at every option to generate revenue … I’m not going to vote on anything that’s going to take that $1.5 million (away) and start at 0. I want to know what the Lewis Group’s marching orders are?”

Haglund responded that the Lewis Group is interested in a possible partnership but currently are just researching the property. He said the designs will come from staff and be presented to the community in two or three public forums for the public to give input on what is wanted.

Community Development Director Chris Erias added that staff would come up with two or three designs to be considered in about four to six months.

Haglund also gave a report on possible ways to increase revenues for the city.

He asked council to consider an increase in city sales tax, a possible parcel tax, which would be an annual fee for all city property owners or a city-wide Community Facilities District to fund parks and recreation maintenance and programming and landscape costs. These options would have to go before the voters for approval. He said Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) users could be taxed under a Utility User Tax, as an alternative option.

He said the next steps to decide on one or more of the options would be community presentations for discussion, clear communication as to what services would be funded, a poll to assess voter opinions and professional elections expertise to guide the city.