Welcome to the Record Searchlight and Redding.com.’s live chat with Redding City Manager Kurt Starman.
Mr. Starman is joining us today as part of an ongoing dialogue on the Blueprint for Public Safety and the ideas it has sparked to better services in the community.
We thank him for his participation in this discussion. For those of you in our audience, participate in the chat. If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #BlueprintChat to ask questions and comment.
QUESTION: Can you give us an update on the blueprint implementation team? What are members talking about and what are they working on?
Starman: Start with some background first. Consultant presented its report to City Council and supervisors in December.
The team, made up of Starman, Shasta County Executive Officer Larry Lees, Fire Chief Gerry Gray, Police Chief Robert Paoletti and Sheriff Tom Bosenko, will determine which blueprint recommendations will be implemented.
Starman: we wanted some community feedback. Some examples of that is the Merchant Crime Watch group and on the city website where people can share their thoughts and questions.
Starman: County and city put together an implementation team and asked them to come back with a more manageable plan. It's similar to steering committee involved in the creation of the Blueprint for Public Safety.
Starman: that group has met twice now. It has focused most of its attention on short-term recommendations. For the most part those are commendations that have little to no cost associated with them.
Starman: Part two will be the council and supervisors will look at the recommendations that require funding. That will be the second order of work.
Starman: The team will present the tier one recommendations (those with no cost) in March, and follow with the next recommendations in April.
Starman: The Blueprint needs to be balanced with the community's needs and values. Discussion now turns to is this a good fit for Shasta County and Reedding, and if not, why.
QUESTION: The blueprint had more than 100 recommendations. Realistically, please list the changes you see the fire and police departments taking on with the resources it has? And how soon do we see changes?
Starman: It's a little premature to decide that right now. For those recommendations with no cost, there will be a couple that may not be a good fit, or we may want to change the way we approach something. I think it;'s safe to say that many of those will be pursued.
Starman: Using Fire Dept. as an example, of those 25-30 tier 0 recommendations, we'll probably put in place about 85 to 90 percent of them this year.
Starman: One of recommendations was to set response times set for where you live in related to the urban core. There's the reality of where fire stations are and how long it takes to get somewhere. But we're not going to reduce response time, but our goal is no matter where emergency is, we will respond as soon as we can.
Starman: One piece that doesn't make it into discussion but assumed in document is that we have three firefighter and six firefighter positions paid for through grants. The document assumes those positions will remain and it builds expectations on that. Blueprint has one recommendation based on that, saying it won't have as big of a price tag that it really would because we would need to keep those nine now paid for by grants and add another nine.
Starman: Some recommendations have a big price tag and City Council will have to discuss and prioritize, and find funding.
QUESTION: That's a similar situation to the police department?
Starman: There are some similarities in police department. City Council approved four police officers for neighborhood policing unit. But that is a 2-year funding commitment but we don't have funding identified to take it beyond those two years.
Starman: In the tier 0 and tier 1 recommendations, there are some additional costs just to keep status quo, for the extra police officers and firefighters.
Starman: Neighborhood policing unit up and running on Hilltop, and it was a two-year funding commitment. May not have money to continue it. So, to maintain status quo, even with Tier 0 recommendations, there are costs. That is just one example.
QUESTION: What about the response time? The chief had a difference in opinion with the consultant.
Starman: Consultants said we have a reactive police strategy and consultant recommended ways to make it more proactive. One suggestion was changing shift schedules and how we deploy resources.
Starman: Reactive policing strategy pointed out and Matrix Consulting suggested changes, particularly with how police department deploys resources. Could help the department become more proactive.
QUESTION: I noticed that in the City Council packet for Tuesday, a tax sharing proposal has resurfaced. Redding’s mayor and vice mayor and you would be meeting with representatives for the county and the cities of Anderson and Shasta Lake.
Can you tell us about this invitation the city has received from Supervisor Pam Giacomini?
Starman: The invitation was by the entire board of supervisors. Redding, county and Anderson in the past have discussed this before. There was some discussion with the supervisors earlier this month. They took action to participate in discussion. There's no proposal as part of that at this time. We will accept the invitation and see what they have in mind.
Starman: Today it is a difficult conversation to have because we're all recovering from the Great Recession and we're not back up to levels before then. If it's about reallocating revenues, that will be a difficult conversation to have. But if we're looking at going forward with new revenues identified, that will be a different conversation.
QUESTION: As many people have observed, the blueprint has helped elevate the conversation about the community really needs. But out there, I still see businesses exasperated that little is being done to address homeless problems. Advocates remain concerned about the city’s tactics to deal with the homeless.
Are you satisfied with the city’s handling of the issue of homelessness?
Starman: I think it's dangerous to imply that homelessness equals police issues. Certainly there are people who are homeless who commit crimes.
Starman: We as a community, we are a giving community, we have a lot of programs and organizations in place to help those who have a desire to improve themselves. We could do more to better coordinate those resources. It;s not just a Redding as an entity issue, or for just the police department. It requires a community response. Not only local government, but nonprofits and faith community as well,
Starman: Weak link today is we're not as coordinated as we could be. There's room for better coordination.
QUESTION: What as city manager is your role and what will you do to address the concerns of these two groups?
Starman: City;s role is, we do have a few social service programs. We've been good partners with those who have more direct role in that.