Serving the community since 1970

Cities face cost of virus

Sales tax revenue likely to be cut

City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez told the City Council Tuesday night that city will take a financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales tax revenues are likely to be reduced due to the deferral allowed for businesses up to $50,000, which will impact the city budget. He also said a portion of online sales taxes will come back to the city.

He also mentioned that in anticipation of employees returning to work, the city is looking into protective windows be installed at all counters.

In addition, he was not sure how Dial-a-Ride will look once it is up and running again. The city is looking into how passengers will be able to maintain a safe distance from each otherwhile riding the bus.

Ortiz-Hernandez also gave a report on the current landscaping and weed abatement issues at the former Wasco Labor Camp on 6th Street.

While the Housing Authority continues to maintain the site as best as it can, regularly maintaining the property has been reduced in the vacant areas of the property.

Due to the change to warmer weather, weeds and lawns are overgrown and they need to be maintained before the city takes possession.

“The Housing Authority is anxious to have the city take over the property,” Ortiz-Hernandez said.

The City Council is preparing to take over the property, but before that takes place, the Housing Authority must mow the lawns, remove weeds and spray an herbicide to prevent weeds from returning before the city will take possession.

The city expects that before it takes control of the property, the Housing Authority will perform some level of maintenance at the complex, which will need to happen on a regular basis.

Ortiz-Hernandez expects to meet with Housing Authority in May, since it has not met during the quarantine.

He mentioned there were still nine families residing at the site. Mayor Tilo Cortez stated that he and Councilmember Gilberto Reyna are continuing a search for suitable housing for the remaining families. “As you are aware, housing is very difficult to come by in Wasco,” Cortez, who runs a real estate firm as his full-time job, said. “There isn’t anything available.”

There are about 23 acres and over 100 buildings and structures on the property. City staff estimates that initial cleanup would be $2,160 for ground sterilizer (assuming two applications per year) with no initial cleanup.

In addition to the upkeep of the grounds at the site, the council unanimously agreed to extend the security contract for an additional 45 days. The arrangement will be reviewed at the May 19 meeting.

During public comments, audience member Ruby Lydia expressed her concern on the criminal activity in town. She asked the council what the city intends to do regarding the violence and criminal activity.

In other business, the month of April was designated as DMV/Donate Life Month. A Wasco resident shared her story of receiving a donated kidney from a Shafter resident in 2017.


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