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Councilman Dr. Michael Moats listens to city staff during Tuesday's Santa Maria City Council meeting. 

The Santa Maria City Council approved a contract to expand the Santa Maria Area Transit (SMAT) parking lot, finalized a cost-sharing agreement for employee retirement plans and issued several proclamations during its Tuesday meeting.

A $370,000 contract to expand the SMAT parking lot — which was unanimously passed by the City Council — calls for the construction of a new asphalt and concrete parking area for the city's SMAT buses next to the existing bus facility on Fairway Drive.

The approved bid for the contract — which was submitted by J.F. Will Co. — was 7-percent higher than the city engineer’s estimate of around $346,000. The bid includes a perimeter fence, sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements on Fairway Drive, new parking lot lighting and landscaping.

In an effort to reduce spending, the City Council gave final approval to a modified CalPERS agreement with city employees, which asks employees to share retirement costs with the city. CalPERS, which manages the pensions of more than 1.6 million California public employees, voted in late 2016 to lower its expected rate of return on investment from 7.5 to 7 percent by 2019, leading to increased costs that have created budget shortfalls in many cities.

CalPERS' current assets are around 68 percent of what's needed to provide for its liabilities.

In other business, the City Council passed three proclamations declaring the month of September to be Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and National Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in Santa Maria.

Council on Alcoholism and Drug Use North County Operations manager Britt Stanley — who accepted one of the proclamations from the city — spoke about how widespread alcoholism and drug abuse has become in Santa Maria.

“There are currently 928 people receiving substance use disorder treatment in the city of Santa Maria — that includes adults, adolescents, outpatient treatment intensive outpatient and medically-assisted treatment,” he said. “This doesn’t include the hundreds of people in sober living homes, those incarcerated for crimes likely associated with their addiction or those who attend or participate in self-help groups like [Alcoholics Anonymous] or [Narcotics Anonymous]. Nor does it include the large number of people who struggle every day with addiction and substance abuse but have yet to come into treatment.”

“It’s important we continue our prevention efforts as our community is dealing with 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds using marijuana, alcohol, Xanax and cocaine,” Stanley said.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed


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