Late Friday, May 8, the city of Wildomar issued an addendum order from the city’s Director of Emergency Services, Gary Nordquist, that is to be added for ratification to the city council’s upcoming Wednesday, May 13 council meeting.
It is the second order from Nordquist, who is also the city manager for Wildomar, the first provided temporary suspensions of certain code enforcement ordinances in order to protect businesses within the city. That order was ratified by the council on April 8.
The order Nordquist will put forth on Wednesday pertains to funding priorities for the city during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the published addendum, released by the city on Saturday, May 9, it reads that the order “was issued to address the funding priority for additional services needed to monitor and enforce these orders from the state and county organizations. As these orders continue to be extended, keeping local businesses closed and increasing the local unemployment, the city’s ability to fund services to monitor and enforce ‘Phased’ economic recovery programs diminishes daily, to the point where it is not a priority.”
According to the city, sales tax revenues received from small and local businesses in Wildomar provide 28% of the total general funds the city receives.
“Specifically, in the city of Wildomar, 50% of all general fund sales taxes are received from restaurants and gas stations,” according to the addendum. “The longer these and other businesses are closed or limited in operating their businesses, the less opportunity for the city to fund additional services required by the state.”
In the Friday night press release issued by the city, Nordquist identified police and fire emergency core service levels; building, safety and code enforcement services; road repair; quality of life services; animal control; and the 20% general fund reserve as high priority items for General Fund revenue.
The only item listed by the city as something not to be funded by General Fund revenue pertained to COVID-19 state and county orders enforcement, calling them “not a local priority.”
The press release was distributed within hours of a Riverside County Board of Supervisors special meeting on Friday at which the supervisors unanimously voted to ask its top health officer to rescind and amend all of the orders he extended just more than a week ago.
At the meeting, Supervisor Jeff Hewitt stated that he wanted to go further with the supervisor’s actions, effectively defying all mandates and guidelines issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Third District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said he doubted the county had the authority to overrule the state’s mandates and worried that doing so would put the county in jeopardy of being shut out of any forthcoming emergency funding distributed by the state.
Valley News reached out to Nordquist and Economic Development Director Kimberly Davidson, and city mayor Dustin Nigg on Saturday morning with questions pertaining to the risks of refusing to prioritize state and county mandate requirements surrounding COVID-19 and whether the intent of the order was to make a statement.
The addendum goes on to say that there are “no loan or revenue backfill programs in place to fund services for ‘small business’ cities such as Wildomar, with a population of fewer than 500,000 residents.
“Just the contrary as the governor continues to give away or defer cities sales taxes and elements of property tax revenue,” the addendum reads. “Considering these and other actions placed on the city of Wildomar by distant organizations this Director of Emergency Services Order No. 2 provides the priority listing of funding services in the community and the enforcement of state and county orders related to COVID-19 is not a local priority.”
Nordquist, Davidson, or Nigg had not responded to the questions as of 3 p.m. Saturday.
The council will also consider a number of other issues facing the city, including the encouragement of staff to have the council ratify the continued existence of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, a resolution a wildland fire protection district agreement, various contract agreements and will feature a COVID-19 update from staff.
The city of Wildomar city council meeting will take place online at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 13. The meeting will be live-streamed at
www.cityofwildomar.org or on cable television through Frontier Channel 36 or AT&T channel 99.
Residents who wish to participate in the meeting and speak during public comment can do so by joining the council’s Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84692120854 (meeting ID: 846 9212 0854) or by calling into 669-900-6833 and using the meeting ID: 846 9212 0854.
To be heard during the meeting, click the “raise your hand” button at the start of the meeting. If calling into the meeting, dial 8 to request to speak.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.