On Monday night, the city’s budget crisis came close to altering the date and location of the monthly meeting of the Area 1 Neighborhood Advisory Group (NAG).
The NAG meets in the evening, 6:15 – 8:30 p.m., on the third Monday of each month at the Ethel MacLeod Hart Center, a community center administered by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The attendees are representatives from neighborhood associations, businesses, and citizen-activists. They all assemble in the Center’s Redwood Room to hear city officials speak on issues relating to city policies and services, developers present building plans, and other issues of interest.
Due to the city’s budget crisis, the Neighborhood Services Department alerted the NAG that the Hart Center would no longer be available as a location for meetings. The city could not afford to keep the Center open after 5:00 p.m., unless there is a paid reservation for the meeting room.
The Neighborhood Services Department had been hosting the meetings. If the NAG wanted to continue to meet at its usual date and time, the NAG would have to pay for a rental fee for use of the meeting room, at a charge of $35 – $75 per hour.
When the issue came up on the agenda there was general discussion as to why the NAG met on Mondays, to allow interested parties to attend the Tuesday night City Council meetings, and/or Commission meetings held on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The NAG has been meeting at the same location and date for 15 years, therefore there was no support for moving the location, or changing the date of the meetings.
When Director of Neighborhood Services, Vincene Jones, asked for suggestions for a solution, offers came from around the room from neighborhood associations, businesses and City Councilmember Steve Cohn to cover the rental fee for a monthly meeting. Enough pledges were received to cover six months of rental fees. Sacramento Press offered to cover six months of rental fees.
This may be repeated in the future, citizens stepping forward to cover costs that were once paid by the city.