After another lengthy discussion regarding an update to the city of Galt’s solid waste ordinance, City Council completed the final approval for revision on Galt Municipal Code chapter 8.16 with a 4-1 vote at the council’s March 16 meeting. Vice Mayor Paul Sandhu was the dissenting vote.

In what is usually a routine approval, Sandhu pulled the item from the consent calendar, stating that although he approved the three other items on the consent calendar, he wanted to make it clear that he was not in favor of passing the revised municipal code because it was just a framework and did not include any details.

“I’m going to stand on what I said at the last city meeting, I cannot vote on this at this time because this is only a framework and not any detail,” Sandhu said. “And also, it’s too early and I do not want to be the first city [to pass an updated ordinance].

Sandhu told The Galt Herald after the March 2 meeting that the city has 10 months before the state requires municipalities to pass these new ordinances, and so questioned why the city was rushing to establish this now.

“We don’t need to be heading the pack on this,” Sandhu said. “We may not be able to stop the state, but we can push this back until three months before we have to enact this.”

Trying to help bring the council together after the March 2 meeting’s split vote on the topic, Mayor Shawn Farmer hoped to clear up some of the questions that were brought forward at that previous meeting.

City Manager Lorenzo Hines told councilmembers that staff acknowledges that the updated ordinance is a framework, a framework that will get the city’s municipal code in line with state mandates.

“The ordinance that you see before you … is really an ordinance to bring our code in line with state law. And so that’s all it does,” Hines said at the March 16 meeting. “The implications going forward we will work out with Cal-Waste. And as we bring those things and as we come to resolution, we will be bringing those program features before council for their review.”

Farmer thanked Hines for his explanations regarding the need to update the ordinance, but reiterated his ultimate concern over “unanswered questions.”

“I’m not opposed to moving this thing forward,” Farmer said, “but I just feel like there’s a lot of unanswered questions still, and I don’t think that this thing is by any means close to being compliant. All we did is change some verbiage, but there’s some big pieces missing in this. I don’t know why you couldn’t just get all these details ironed out and then come back with a completed version of this code.”

Hines said that staff wanted to get the framework in place, then “figure out programmatically how we’re going to roll this out and inform the customers of Cal-Waste so we don’t have a repeat of what happened before with rate increases.”

After a public comment asking how the residential customers were going to be affected, council passed the ordinance updates with a 4-1 vote.

Council also discussed resuming in-person Council meetings.

“We’re now in the Red Tier. Frankly, I feel that if we can sit down in a restaurant, send our kids to school or our kids can play sports, I feel like the city should set an example and learn to conduct the way it was before. I would like to ask my fellow Councilmembers for support.

“I feel like we can definitely come up with social distancing precautions that we did from the very beginning. I think it’s just important that we start, as we’re going to be dealing with important matters coming before Council that we do it in our formal setting. We have new Councilmembers that have never been able to participate in live meetings. There’s a lot to be said about chambers and making these decisions in that atmosphere. And the magnitude of what we’re doing, compared to the computer screen.”

Hines said that he wanted to wait for in-person meetings until all staff members were eligible to receive the COVID-19 immunization.

Council agreed to address the topic officially at the next council meeting on April 6.