The annexation of Roseland is going to be a costly endeavor, and the Santa Rosa City Council faces its first installment Tuesday.
The council must decide how much to spend on the complex, multi-year planning effort, including whether to promote the staff person in charge of managing the annexation and whether to study what it would take for city police to begin patrolling county islands.
Costs estimates for the planning work range from $1.2 million to $1.6 million, depending on which of three options the council chooses.
All three options involve the promotion of Community Development Director Chuck Regalia to the post of assistant city manager.
In his new position, Regalia's duties would be evenly split between his current role heading the planning, building and code enforcement departments, and managing the three-and-a-half year Roseland planning effort.
Running the annexation out of the City Manager's office makes sense because the scope of the effort, Regalia said.
"It's a broad program across all city lines," he said.
Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips was previously going to manage the project, but when the council pushed for the schedule to be sped up by several months, it conflicted with her other duties, including as acting chief financial officer, she said.
Regalia is "extremely knowledgeable and passionate" about the annexation and having him lead the effort makes perfect sense, Phillips said.
"We thought it was a really good approach," she said.
The promotion could mean up to a 10-percent pay bump for Regalia, who currently earns a salary of $153,960. His new salary has not been negotiated, but the top of the assistant city manager pay range is $169,320 and the proposed two-year budget for the post is based on that figure, Phillips said.
The bigger questions facing the council are whether to fund the effort for two or three years, and whether to study expanding policing services to county islands before they are annexed.
Funding the effort for two years would cost the city $1.2 million or $1.4 million for three years. Those costs include the new city manager post, the time for the senior planner committed to the project and consultant fees.
Studying what it would take to roll police service out to the county areas within the city's urban growth boundary would cost another $127,000, for a total of just under $1.6 million.
Councilwoman Julie Combs asked for additional information about what it would take to expand police services to county islands and semi-urban areas adjacent to the city limits, such as the Moorland Avenue area where 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot last year by a Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy as Lopez carried a toy gun made to resemble an AK-47 assault rifle.
Combs said she is willing to pay more to have city police begin serving those areas even before they are annexed.
"I think we can provide the kind of urban neighborhood policing that is needed in those areas," Combs said.
She said she believes having the city expand police services to Roseland and other such areas would smooth their transition to the city by acting as a form of community outreach.
It would also help sidestep the debates that have tied up past annexation efforts, namely the city-county disagreement about the cost of law enforcement services to Roseland.