City Council Applies Brakes, Will Not Expand Elk Grove City Manager's Purchasing Authority

February 15, 2018 |  

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, February 14, the Elk Grove City Council rejected a proposal that would have temporarily expanded the purchasing authority of the city manager. 

By a unanimous vote, the city council rejected a proposal that would have given city manager Laura Gill authority to make purchase offers on properties for the city's homelessness program. Had it been approved, Gill could have made offers on up to three properties valued up to $500,000 each without prior city council approval.

In her presentation to the council, housing program manager Sarah Bontranger said the request was in response to a very active real estate market where residences are quickly being sold. 

"Our proposed solution was to allow the city manager to make offers on up to four properties with the $500,000 maximum per property," Bontranger said. "The offers would include an escrow period sufficient to do public outreach."

Leading off deliberations Council Member Pat Hume said he was opposed to the recommendation. Citing another matter discussed earlier in the meeting regarding the purchase of a residential dwelling on Moon Creek Way by the city to be used to assist homeless families, Hume said the purchase and disclosure process needed more checks and balances.

"All of us up here, every so often, stand for election," Hume said. "I am not going to put on your shoulders, or any city managers shoulders, to have wherever neighborhood a house is purchased focused only on a single individual." 

Hume noted that it was not a matter of mistrusting Gill, but emphasized purchasing these properties is the responsibility of "those that can be removed from office."

Following Hume was Council Member Steve Detrick who also opposed the proposal for different reasons. As he stated during deliberation earlier in the evening regarding the purchase of the dwelling on Moon Creek Way to assist homeless families, Detrick said he would have preferred to see a $5 million grant the city received from the state pooled with other government entities combined to take a regional approach to the homelessness.

"We could get more bang for our buck, in the long run, coupling up, using this towards a regional effort," he said.

Council Member Stephanie Nguyen said she agreed with Hume's assessment and that there needed to be more community outreach before the purchase of further housing units in the city.

"We can't fast track things like this," Nguyen said. "There needs to be some community input, and we need to work with them a little bit more to get their buy-in when we do things such as this."


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Eye on Elk Grove said...

Bravo Lynn Wheat for speaking up on this issue. Why is an open, transparent government such a problem in Elk Grove? It is a good thing that people like you spoke up. Otherwise, as we have seen in the past, nothing would have been said, it would have most likely passed, and City Manager Laura Gill would have $500,000 blank checks she could fill out and no one would know.

Didn't this Council learn anything from what occurred with the previous City Manager John Danielson?

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