By Raymond Mendoza
Walnut – The Walnut City Council chambers was packed on Wednesday for its June 6 meeting, notably with a large Filipino crowd due to the City proclamation of Filipino American Heritage Week.
The Council thanked members of Filipino American Cultural and Educational Affairs, drawing on the unique history of Filipino Americans starting in WWII and ending with their influence on the City of Walnut – which has a large Filipino community.
The Council also recognized the winners of the Walnut PONY League (7 and under) all-star championship team; and Panera Bread as the Spring 2015 Business of the Quarter.
After the recognitions, there was a presentation by independent auditors from Lance, Soll and Lunghard, reviewing the 2014 financial audit for the benefit of the residents in concern to infrastructure.
Rich Kikuchi, partner for Lance, Soll and Lunghard, stated that Walnut’s audit took several hundred hours, coming to the conclusion that the City’s finances were correct, had no financial weaknesses and were deemed “materially correct.” Kikuchi said they are currently in preparation for their next audit of the City in August. He also mentioned that the 2015 audit will be ready sometime in November.
Mayor Nancy Tragarz then launched into several questions, bringing up her long standing questions regarding suspicious expenses and a lack of malpractice insurance for City Attorney, Michael Montgomery. Tragarz stated that she was questioning certain contracts under the need for transparency, while City Manager, Robert Wishner, stated that Walnut has always managed its finances correctly and that Lance, Soll and Lunghard have done an exemplary job auditing the City for years.
After the presentation was over, Tragarz was still blocked from setting a meeting with Kikuchi and his firm, but planned on creating a future meeting to look deeper into the policies and finances that she believes are worth taking a second look at.
The Council then moved on to its public hearing items, starting with an ordinance to modify the definition for boardinghouses or rooming houses, which are currently illegal in the City. The Council approved the ordinance after no one stepped forward to speak during public comment.
The Council also read an ordinance prohibiting parking on various City streets in the vicinity of Mount San Antonio College. Traffic Engineer, Tom Gilberton, said the new ordinance would affect Varsity Drive near Mt. SAC. He mentioned that the ordinance had been brought to the Council since residents have claimed that Mt. SAC students constantly litter in the area.
The Council approved the ordinance, banning parking on Varsity Drive.
The Council also approved an ordinance regarding permit processes for small residential rooftop solar energy systems and inspections, as well as setting a public hearing for the matter on June 24.
The Council then approved all items on its Consent Calendar, including a resolution for claims and demands in the amount of $454,469.11; a resolution to establish the 2015-16 appropriation limit; a resolution for management, general, and part-time salary schedule changes; a resolution for sewer system management plan recertification; the approval of a two-year contract with Nieves Landscape, Inc., as the City contractor for landscape maintenance in lighting and open space maintenance Zone 9 with no increase; an award of bid to Triton Communications Inc., for City-wide telephone systems; sports group requests for biannual field use for fall 2015; a bingo permit application submitted by the Walnut Senior Club and request for waiver; a request to proceed with formal bids for school crossing guard services; an approval of a one-year contract with Athletic Field Specialists for sports field maintenance at Creekside, Snow Creek and Suanne Parks; the final acceptance of the Valley Crest Landscape Maintenance, Inc. notice of completion for the CalSense Irrigation Controller Installation Project; and an award of bid to Sports Field Services for trail improvements.
The final item of the night was a Council discussion item concerning the continuance of a nuisance abatement hearing, appealing the City Manager regarding the abatement and removal of a wall located at 20638 Loyalton Drive. However, the Council moved to bring the item back at a later time to discuss the item in detail.
After announcements, the Council adjourned with plans to meet on June 24 at 7 p.m. in chambers located at 21201 La Puente Road.