By Ted AYALA
The full Glendale City Council reconvened on Tuesday after a two-week break that started in November.
Looking into next year’s special election, council voted on whether to hire a public outreach agency to convince the public to approve tax increases. The idea was floated late last month, with most of the council approving further exploration of the idea.
“Because we have the special election, we have an opportunity to pose questions to the public,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa at the last council meeting before its two-week recess. “Folks have intimated they want more service and are willing to pay more for it.”
Council voted to approve the awarding of a $95,000 contract to Sorell & Associates to conduct outreach and education for potential ballot measures that would increase taxes. Councilmember Laura Friedman abstained from speaking or voting on the contract citing a conflict of interest.
The sole public speaker on the item, Mike Mohill, attacked the city for using tax dollars to fund an exploration to favor tax increases.
“The city wants to pick at your pockets,” he said. “They’ll use your tax dollars to hire Sorell & Associates to convince you to vote for higher taxes. Don’t vote ‘yes’ on any of these outreach projects.”
Mohill also railed against the curtailment of time allotted for his public statements. He was given only one minute by Mayor Dave Weaver to state his opposition. The standard amount of time allowed by the public to speak on an agenda item is two minutes, already shortened from the three-minute limit observed before Weaver’s current term.
Echoing his prior feelings on the possibility of raising taxes on residents, Councilmember Zareh Sinanyan voted against hiring Sorell and exploring the idea any further.
“[My vote] is in no way a reflection of my feelings on Sorrell & Associates,” he said. “But I’m going to be consistent with my previous votes and not open the door to new taxes. It’s way too soon after the electricity fee increases.”
Voting in favor to hire Sorell, though expressing “philosophical” opposition to seeking higher taxes, was Councilmember Frank Quintero.
“Looking at those firms, [Sorell]is the best,” he said.