On Sunday, October 13 the Santa Ramona City Council met for their monthly council meeting. In attendance were:
Jay Stone, Governor Doctor Eve Stone, Chief physician SRGH Dimitri Rousseau, City manager and Fire Chief Joseph Styles, Finance Director Chiara Villanova, Mayor Jordan Russo, Legal Counselor Sarina Ramirez, Sheriff Azariah Brentt, Undersheriff Roisin Russo, Parks and Recreation
The only item on the agenda was Mayor Villanova's proposal regarding the creation of a community center in Southside. According to her proposal, the property in question owed the city a lot in back taxes. The mayor intended to buy it for the amount of back taxes plus one dollar.
There were several questions regarding the proposal. One was presented by Doctor Stone who wanted to know what kind of classes would be taught at the center. The mayor indicated cooking, sewing, gardening or other types of classes would be held. The doctor then wanted a clause added to the proposal that no medical or clinical classes would be offered as this would interfere with the federal funding that the clinic received to stay open and offer services to the community. The mayor agreed to this added clause.
Another question was asked by someone in the audience. He wanted to know the positive and negative impacts of the center. The mayor responded, "It's my hope that the improvement will decrease crime in the area and increase property values. So sorry it might in a few years increase your taxes but it should help bring additional traffic to your venue." Dimitri Rousseau also added, "It can only increase value in the community -- not just financially but it be an investment in people, residents of South Side."
When discussing the costs and needed donations, Sheriff Ramirez donated a whopping 10 grand from the Ramirez Foundation of Hope. She also said that if donations do not come in to cover the upkeep costs then the Foundation would be willing to continue to provide for the upkeep.
Another question that came up was posed by Undersheriff Brentt. He wanted to know what security measures would be in place for the community center. The Sheriff suggested a deputy be posted at least for high traffic times. Others expressed that this would send the wrong message to the community. The Sheriff then said she felt there should at least be some security measures like an alarm and cameras.
After questions had been answered to everyone's satisfaction it was put to a vote. It passed unanimously. the floor was then opened up to discussion in general. Joseph Styles brought up the possibility of solar panels in the city to off set the times when we have black outs. The mayor also mentioned she had college students in a geography class working on a new map of the city. Undersheriff Brentt shared he's working on a map of the sewers but some are currently flooded so he can't complete them until they are dried out.
A citizen asked about the chamber of commerce and additional members for the council that are from businesses. It was discussed that the previous proposal from Mayor Roman Ramirez with a chamber of commerce had passed. The President of the Chamber of Commerce would serve on the council and be a full voting member. Also, another voting member will be a member from South Side but that has yet to be decided.
The meeting was sedate by Santa Ramona standards. The amount of money donated by the Sheriff and her husband was significant. While the Sheriff, according to the county budget, makes about 100,000, the amount donated is no small amount. One would expect the doctor and lawyer on the council to be wealthy but not necessarily the Sheriff. It does make a person wonder who on the council is not wealthy? Does anyone represent the common man who struggles week to week or has to pour blood, sweat and tears into their business to keep it open? Will it be this new South Side Rep or the Chamber of Commerce President?