As a few citizens personally blamed Live Oak City Manager Jim Goodwin for much of the town's financial problems, even more came out to defend him and the way he has turned the town around especially when it comes to new businesses.
Of upmost concern for the people is the proposed water rate increase and Carol Lee pointed this out by stating, "Our community could not be more divided and it started at City Hall. Two developers came in and left. We have had two new family owned businesses come in in two years. I speak for myself, I cn't be more disappointed between our City Manager and City Council members.
"Jim's job was to oversee our budget which is hard to do with the Council asking for more to dig us out," she stated.
Lee also pointed out that the City pays Goodwin $500 car allowance per month stating, "He chose to commute from Chico. Jim gets $100 per month cell allowance. You would think $205,000 a year could pay his own cell phone. The City of Live Oak can no longer afford your services."
Past Council member Gary Baland addressed the Council and stated the Council passed the 2017-2018 budget with a 5-0 vote in June.
"Those funds included for water fund and you knew full well the costs. The water committee asked for a water study. Mayor Banks chaired the committee. Council voted 5-0 for a consultant cost and 5-0 for additions through water fund. The committee and the council cost the extra money with a vote of 5-0.
"I'm on a fixed income. My water bill will be $8 more than Yuba City. I had a friend receive a doubled water bill and had all kinds of comments. This is going to be very damaging to poor people. You have the power. Don't put off on him your responsibility. You are the face of Live Oak. Do your job," Baland stated.
The owner of the Arco station at Pennington and Highway 99 told Council he has not received any help from the City even after speaking with Goodwin concerning his water bill in the past. Arco currently pays $900 per month and with the projected increase it would jump to $1,400 per month for the use of a toilet.
"I have checked with other gas stations, Gridley, Yuba City and Oroville. Nobody pays over $1,000 a month anywhere. With water and sewer I will be $1,300 to $1,400 per month, John stated.
Business owner Bob Woten told Council he is very happy with the schools, and the City stating, "Every City has it's ups and downs. Since Jim has been here we have seen a lot of good things. I'm confused with mixed messages. With his concern over the dissension over the SR99 streetscape project, Woten asked how many wanted to see it succeed with everyone raising their hands and when he asked how many didn't want to see it succeed all hands remained down.
"I am worried about my business but can we really sit and stay the way we are? We need the City Manager to get us through it. He is not a scape goat for the water rates. He did not vote to have extra study. He is taking blame and City Council should have his back. He has done everything he has been asked. He and the Mayor disagree. Use the wealth of knowledge he has. No one of you knows what he knows. Why do we want to burn him at the stake? We need to work together. We need justice in the community. I'm tired of the fighting and bickering. Vote your conscience. Civility prevails when good men come together," Woten stated.
Baland again approached the podium to say the addition of Tower Mart, Dollar General and Dutch Bros., was due to Goodwin stating, "I don't know any of us that could bring larger businesses here. Dutch Bros., is here because of the people Jim knew. This is the last large footprint for Dollar General, here in Live Oak. There are no new projects now because of the friction. There is a friction here and a personal agenda. I'm not telling you anything new. The friction is evident. I had a friend tell me it is embarrassing. I would like you to consider all the benefits the City Manager has brought to Live Oak."
Kathy Woten stated she could not just sit and not voice her support for the City Manager who has worked so hard for Live Oak. "We truly appreciate all you have done I understand about water. I don't like it either. We pay more but its not his fault you voted it in. Please don't take it out on him. I heard somebody asked him to take a pay cut to help the water rate. He doesn't deserve this. We would lose a lot. He has a wealth of knowledge and he knows more than any of us," she said.
The evening ended with a closed session regarding possible upcoming litigation and an annual review of Goodwin.
A community meeting was held Thursday evening where residents could bring their current water bills for a comparison with the proposed increase, set to be voted on at the September 27, 2017 meeting.