The City Council Chambers were almost completely empty, but Fontana's leaders still did their duty of carrying on with the city's business on March 24.
Because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the city strongly urged residents to watch the regularly scheduled City Council meeting online or on television through KFON-TV, and no residents showed up to provide public comments.
Mayor Acquanetta Warren and Councilmembers Phillip Cothran, Jesse Armendarez, John Roberts, and Jesse Sandoval followed social distancing protocol, sitting far apart from each other while the meeting was being conducted.
Two items on the agenda -- the review of the user fees and the evaluation of the quarterly lien action for delinquent sewer, rubbish and weed abatement accounts -- took on new relevance because of the difficult financial situations faced by many residents as a result of the coronavirus.
The Management Services Department annually analyzes the 1,500 fees (many of which are low-cost) that the city applies to services provided to the public.
City staff is recommending 62 fee revisions for the upcoming fiscal year starting in July -- seven new fees, seven decreases to existing fees, 43 increases to existing fees, and five fee deletions.
Sandoval asked if any fee increases could be postponed past July 1.
Warren said that when new City Manager Mark Denny assumes his post in April, the fees will be reevaluated.
"We're going to look at all of our fees and how they're impacting our people based on this crisis," Warren said. "We should really look at any way we can help our citizens."
The city is anticipating that the number of delinquent sewer, rubbish, and weed abatement accounts will increase, but the enforcement of those penalties could be reconsidered, Warren indicated.
The two items were unanimously approved.
At the beginning of the meeting, Warren said she greatly appreciated the work of people providing essential services as well as volunteers who are contributing to the betterment of Fontana.
"I want to thank all of our residents for their patience and cooperation during this time, when 'Fontana Together' is not just a logo, it really means something," Warren said.
Warren said that on March 20, she stopped by Southridge Middle School, one of the sites where free meals were given to children thanks to the Fontana Unified School District's "grab and go" lunch program. The program is scheduled to continue each weekday at various school sites while school remains out of session.
Warren said that volunteering to hand out the lunches was "the best two hours I've ever spent. I was going to be there for 10 minutes and I couldn't leave, just to see the faces of the children. The kids were so glad to see some of their teachers and their aides."
----- ALSO on March 20, Warren posted a message on Facebook from her residence, reminding her constituents about a very important topic -- the U.S. Census.
"I was just thinking: All of us are at home and we're kind of shut in," she said, "so why don't we take advantage of this opportunity to do our Census?"
She said it is vital that Fontana residents turn in the Census forms they received in the mail so that the city can receive its fair share of federal funding for a wide range of necessary services.
"The government is going to see these stats and help our great city and our great state, which helps our great country, and you all need to be counted," she said. "Take this time to do your 2020 Census. It's due April 1, you already have it in your hands; let's use this time to be productive. Help us get the funding for our great town. Be counted and be proud of it."