DOWNEY - The Downey City Council this week reluctantly moved forward with a June 3 election where voters will decide whether to give council members the authority to contract emergency services - such as police and fire - without voter approval.The Downey Fire Association collected enough signatures last year to trigger the election, which will be consolidated with the statewide primary. Downey's city charter currently requires two-thirds approval from Downey voters before the City Council can consider outsourcing its police and fire service to agencies such as the L.A. County Sheriff's Department or L.A. County Fire Department. The ballot measure will cost Downey $151,000, not including an additional $150,000 already spent on legal fees and staff time, city officials said. All council members, minus Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez, spoke out against the ballot measure Tuesday. "We're spending $300,000 to take the vote away from residents," said Councilman Roger Brossmer. "It's a total waste of money. It's too bad it's come to this." "The losers in all of this are the residents," added Mayor Fernando Vasquez, "who are spending 300-plus thousand dollars on this." In other action Tuesday, the City Council: *Awarded a $855,418 contract to GMC Engineering, Inc. for concrete work on Firestone Boulevard, between Old River School Road and Brookshire Avenue. The work is part of a massive $5 million rehabilitation of a 1 1/4-mile stretch of Firestone Boulevard that includes new pavement, median islands, irrigation system, ornamental lighting, utility improvements, and more. *Meanwhile, a plan to upgrade the traffic signal at Paramount Boulevard and Gardendale Street is temporarily on hold after council members requested a "dynamic" signal similar to one located at Firestone Boulevard and Garfield Avenue. Councilman Mario Guerra requested a traffic signal utilizing LED lights, which he said are brighter and likely safer than traditional signals. The traffic light replacement is a joint project between Downey and South Gate, and has already been approved by the South Gate City Council. The project is expected to be brought back before the Downey City Council on Feb. 11. *Local attorney Miguel Duarte was appointed to the city's Personnel Advisory Board and retired Santa Fe Springs firefighter Don Lamkin was named to the Public Works Committee.
********** Published: Jan. 30, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 42