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City Joins Community Effort
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California Communities has signed up another one ... with the City of Escalon joining in the program to secure Prop 1A funds.

The state will be taking money from the City of Escalon's property tax in January and May, and city council members on Monday night approved the plan to join with California Communities to get that money back. Under the program, California Communities will pay Escalon the money that the state takes and, after the three-year period when the state pays it back, it will go to California Communities rather than the city. California Communities will also receive the interest the state pays on the money.

Interim City Manager Doug Dunford said the council members were in favor of the plan because it will mean the city won't be out the funds that they would have lost with the state take.

"It works out pretty much as a pass-through," Dunford explained. "It's actually a win-win for the city and California communities."

The city will get half of the money taken by the state - roughly $137,000 - in each of the two payments from California Communities.

In other business at the Monday night meeting, council members hosted a public hearing on unmet transit needs and authorized Dunford to sign a contract with Storer Transportation to operate the city's public transit service. They will take over the routes formerly run by RTD.

"They already run a lot of the Stanislaus County buses and we can tie in to those routes," Dunford said. "It will be a nicer fit. Residents won't really see a difference, it will be the same bus, different driver and there won't be RTD signs at the bus stops, they will be Etrans signs."

Meanwhile, the city is continuing work on the downtown improvement project, with residents turning out for a session last week to offer input. Members of the city's Planning Commission are also sated to review the project at their meeting tonight, Nov. 4 and it will come back to the Escalon City Council for further review and possible approval at the Nov. 16 meeting.

"There were some concerns with how we will address the loss of parking downtown, plus the cost of actually maintaining landscaping and the cost of lights," noted City Engineer John Abrew. "The comments made were very helpful and I think everybody had similar concerns, there were a lot of positive comments and this is a big change, one that's long overdue."

The beautification project will include work on McHenry Avenue and First Street to Main.