Re-writing the Salida Municipal Code

The City has begun a project to re-write the Salida Municipal Code. The primary goals of this project are two-fold – increase the relevance of the code by removing obsolete regulations and improve the city’s operating efficiency.

Before approving the 2011 budget, the City Council asked staff to review the work performed in each department. We are looking at both “what” and “how” staff time is spent on a daily basis and how our work helps the community. If time is being spent enforcing codes or performing tasks that really do not make a difference for the health and safety of citizens, perhaps we should stop doing them.

We will need to review many activities that will be supported by some and opposed by others. Some codes that are intended to enhance an aspect of public safety or quality of life impose restrictions of citizens but have unquantified benefits. Some codes may even result in unintended negative consequences to the community.

For example, should the City monitor the weeds or trash your neighbor’s yard? Or, should neighbors talk to one another about how these conditions affect them? Does the City need to license arborists?

Many of the code revisions will be administrative in nature. We plan to remove administrative details and fees throughout the code. This will allow the City Council to focus more on real policy issues and to act more quickly in some situations.

The first chapter to be re-written will be the utility code. The existing code assigns tasks to specific staff positions or departments. It specifies procedures and the timing for quarterly bills and rates. The current code presents rates as they were originally adopted in previous years along with tables showing rates in effect for past, current and future years. The presentation takes up numerous pages in the code and is difficult to follow. The proposed new code will remove rates and administrative procedures as well as inconsistencies between water and sewer provisions and other chapters of the code. General information about the rate structure and regulations for connections and service will be condensed and made easier to understand.

After the new utilities code becomes effective, the City Council will be able to take action to change rates and fees through a resolution, which will take effect upon approval. Rates will continue to be available in hard copy at City Hall and on the website but will not be part of the code.

On a related topic, staff will propose new water rates to be effective April 1st if approved by the City Council in March. A council work session is scheduled for Tuesday, February 8th at 8:30 in council chambers at the Touber Building. We welcome members of the public to participate in the meeting and share ideas or concerns about provisions of the utility code.