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Merced council to consider date for sales tax measure, plus how to use $1.9M in HUD funds

The Merced City Council will consider selecting a date for a sales tax measure, accepting $1.1 million in federal housing funds and awarding bids worth $28.4 million for the waste-water treatment plant at its 7 p.m. Monday meeting.

The City Council is considering putting a sales tax measure on the ballot to raise additional revenues to deal with the $5 million deficit the city is facing. Without an additional revenue source, the city said in a news release, it will have to cut the general fund budget again, eliminating 15 percent.

Three-quarters of the city's general fund is spent on police and fire services, and the council has said it doesn't want to make more cuts to public safety budgets. A sales tax measure would let the public vote on what levels of serv-ice they want to fund.

Any measure put on the ballot by the city and the process to conduct the election needs to be cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure there's compliance with the Voting Rights Act. If the council wants to hold an Aug. 30 election, the ballot materials need to be sent to the Department of Justice this month.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the city $1.9 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. The money would be used to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed homes and provide down payment and housing assistance for people below the area median income.

The city also said it's entering Phase 5 of work on its waste-water treatment plant. That includes a series of improvements including a storm water detention basin, primary clarifier, dewatering centrifuges and active solar dryers. C. Overaa and Co. had the lowest bid at $26.6 million. Staff is recommending the city hire Carollo Engineers as construction managers of the project for $1.9 million.

The regular City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the council chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St. A special closed session will be held at 6 p.m. to confer with labor negotiators and to discuss four lawsuits.

The City Council agenda is posted online at and is available outside the chambers before the meeting. Request-to-speak cards are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the city's Web site. Cards must be turned in to the city clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the council.