CLAYTON -- City Manager Gary Napper praised the town's emergency response to the 3,100-acre Mount Diablo fire before turning to money matters at the Sept. 17 City Council meeting.

Thanking emergency responders, the city staff, council members and residents who helped when fire broke out on a weekend, Napper noted, "None of the money we (city of Clayton) spent is reimbursable by the state."

City government efforts to keep a balanced budget and bring pension fund debts current have remained focused since the 2008 economic downturn, followed by a state of California takeover of local redevelopment agencies.

Council members unanimously approved updated fees for the coming fiscal year, discussed efforts to recoup about $850,000 claimed by the state, and approved an emergency shelter site to qualify for federal aid funds in the event of an emergency.

"Fees have not been changed since July 2012," said Laura Hoffmeister, assistant to the city manager.

The updated Clayton fees are tied to the April 2013 San Francisco Region Consumer Price Index, which means a 2.4 percent fee increase over 2012 levels.

By August 2013, the CPI index dropped by .8 percent.

"No new fees have been added to the schedule," Hoffmeister said. However, rental fees for soccer could increase next year.

Mayor Julie Pierce asked Napper the odds are for getting the city's money back on a $475,000 firehouse project loan to its former redevelopment agency, and a $376,424 election cost refund due to Clayton from Contra Costa County.

"About the same as the Giants winning the pennant," Napper said jokingly. "The Department of Finance has the hammer."

Napper explained that Concord sent a letter protesting the state's claim that the Concord's municipal garages (redevelopment projects) should be sold, with the proceeds going to the state.

Napper said, given that background, he thinks the odds are slim.

Pierce said, "The public should know that we are still trying to get our own tax money back."

Then the council approved the Clayton Redevelopment Successor Agency's 5th Recognized Obligations Payment Schedule, a state-required report on the disposition of redevelopment assets and liabilities.

Concord Economic Development and Housing Manager John Montagh confirmed that, as part of an ongoing process, a final determination has yet to be made on the status of the Concord municipal garages.

"Department of Finance is the one that is in control," Montagh said.

The courts are the only recourse if a Finance Department decision is unfavorable for a city.

"There are 150 court actions (related to dissolution of redevelopment agencies)," Montagh said.

Also at the Clayton meeting, council approval of a housing element amendment designating a potential emergency shelter site in the area of the Clayton Library will help ensure financial help in case of an emergency or disaster. Cities must have an emergency preparedness plan in place prior to a claim for emergency assistance.

Councilman Howard Geller recapped the successful summer music events and said he is planning to invite the most popular bands back for 2014. Pierce reminded the audience, "No city money pays for concerts, not even for police and staff."

Reach Dana Guzzetti@ dguzzetti10@gmail.com or call 925-202-9292.

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