Councilman Tom Figg rebuttal to Port Hueneme Mayor ProTem Jon Sharkey State of the City Address

 

PortHuenemeTomFiggLetterHead

State of City Address

Mayor ProTem Jonathan Sharkey (October 19, 2016)

http://porthuenemeca.suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=188&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0

REBUTTAL AND FACT CHECKED

Council Member Tom Figg (November 6, 2016)

 

SUMMARY REBUTTAL

On October 19, 2016, Mayor ProTem Jonathan Sharkey delivered a “State of City” address at the Orvene Carpenter Community Center. In keeping with tradition, this event was sponsored by the Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce. However, unlike presentations of the past, Mr. Sharkey’s remarks were less about the City and more about his personal musings. Consequently, much of what Mr. Sharkey presented was based on supposition and is not reflective of the City Council as a whole. Notably absent from his presentation was a factual basis to support his conclusions. For that reason, and in defense of the community in general, I offer the following counterpoint to the State of City Address.

 

STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY: The State’s termination of redevelopment is the root cause of the City’s financial distress. Since dissolution of redevelopment in 2011, the City has lost $4.5 million annually which represents 25% of the City’s General Operating Budget.

 

Fact #1: Revenues derived through redevelopment (known as “tax increment”) can only be used to finance community revitalization (H&S Code Sec. 33678; http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi- bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=33001-34000&file=33670-33679) and only to the extent that such activities expressly benefit designated project areas. Such funds cannot be used for general governmental purposes (i.e., maintenance and operations of public facilities) or personnel costs associated with such services (H&S Code Sec. 33445; http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group= 33001-34000&file=33430-33449).

 

Fact #2: Per the City’s adopted General Fund Budget for FY2010-11 (the year immediately prior to dissolution of redevelopment), the City anticipated using $0.87 million in tax increment to offset $17.5 million in anticipated expenditures (http://ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/ DocumentCenter/View/605; pages 27 & 28). This income source represents less than 6% of the City’s General Fund operating expenditures compared to 25% stated by Sharkey. Using redevelopment as an excuse merely masks the long-standing structural deficit that has not been effectively addressed during his tenure or those of his incumbent colleagues (Ellis Green and Sylvia Schnopp) who seek additional terms of office.

 

STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY: A salary survey conducted several years ago shows that employee compensation in Port Hueneme is in-line with cities of comparable size in Ventura County. People are not being overpaid in Port Hueneme. That’s not the problem. It’s the loss of redevelopment that is the root cause.

 

Fact #1: In its most recent published report, the California State Controller shows that total average compensation for Port Hueneme employees ranks third among all cities within Ventura County (http://www.publicpay.ca.gov/). The City also ranks highest among all Ventura County communities with populations of less than 50,000 persons. While there are many factors that contribute to this statistical anomaly (including overtime pay for public safety personnel), employee compensation is absolutely a contributing factor to the City’s financial challenges. This is particularly poignant given the fact that 72% of the City’s General Fund costs are attributable to personnel (http://ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/ DocumentCenter/View/1187; page 15).

CAAvgCompPerEmployee2015

Fact #2: The City’s structural deficit predates the dissolution of redevelopment. In 1975, the difference between authorized General Fund appropriations and new revenues amounted to 36% (Source: Adopted Budgets, Department of Finance, City of Port Hueneme). Forty years later, the gap remains nearly the same at 37%. The consequent effect is a drain on General Fund Reserves and increased user fees (e.g., water rates) to service debt resulting from inter-fund borrowing (http://ci.port- hueneme.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/1187).

PHStructuralFundDeficit


STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY
: Port Hueneme can no longer afford the cost of services it provides and must become a “Contract City.” Camarillo, by comparison, has only 20 full-time employees for a City of 100,000 people compared to 22,000 residents in Port Hueneme which has 100 persons on its payroll.

 

Fact #1: According to current adopted budgets for the two communities, Camarillo has 130 full time employees (http://www.ci.camarillo.ca.us/docs/FIN/CityCam14-16Budget.pdf) compared to 85 for Port Hueneme (http://ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/1187). When part-time employees are included in the total, the number rises to 182 for Camarillo and 170 for Port Hueneme (http://www.publicpay.ca.gov/). Finally, the current population estimate provided by the California Department of Finance reports 69,924 for Camarillo and 22,702 for Port Hueneme (http://www.dof.ca.gov/Forecasting/Demographics/Estimates/E-1/). In summary, none of the numbers reported by Mr. Sharkey are accurate.

 

Fact #2: Comparing the number of employees between a full-service community and one which relies upon outsourcing and special districts can easily distort the cost and efficiencies of the two models. In the instance of Camarillo, public safety is provided under contract to the County Sheriff and leisure services are furnished through the Pleasant Valley Parks and Recreation District. Both communities are served by the Ventura County Fire District. Regardless of how these services are delivered, residents still pay taxes to receive them. In this regard, the per capita tax burden (based on the 1% tax rate established under Proposition 13) is much greater on Camarillo residents than the burden imposed on those who reside in Port Hueneme regardless of the differential in number of municipal employees.

PHEstPerCapitaPropertyTaxes

STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY: We have a four-member split Council that is costing the tax payers money. On October 17, 2016, the Council was unable to let a bid for outsourcing landscape maintenance services [impliedly blamed on Councilmembers Tom Figg and Jim Hensley]. That failure has cost the City “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in staff time and $300,000 potential cost savings.

 

Fact #1: The bid documents for outsourcing landscape maintenance was initially introduced to the City Council at its regular meeting of September 19, 2016. Councilmember Figg introduced revisions that would incorporate qualitative measures of performance and consideration of employee rehiring (http://porthuenemeca.suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=141&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0 ). Sharkey and Schnopp voted in opposition to those suggestions on two separate occasions; first on September 19th and again on October 17th (http://porthuenemeca.suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player. aspx?id=141&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0                                                                                                 and     http://porthuenemeca.suiteonemedia.com/Web/ Player.aspx?id=142&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0). Consequently, the lost time involved in debating these issues is assignable to Sharkey and Schnopp.

 

Fact #2: The cost of preparing bid documents (using the proposed water rate study RFP as a comparative benchmark) is estimated by staff as being $1,680 (30 hours x $56/hr.; http://porthuenemeca. suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=129&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0).       The            changes recommended by Figg can be handled by simple addendum without a wholescale revision of the entire bid package (http://porthuenemeca.suiteonemedia.com/Web/UserControls/DocPreview. aspx?aid=40; see Agenda Item 7A). The consequent inconvenience in staff time and expense would be far less than the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” claimed by Sharkey.

 

Fact #3: The estimated savings in outsourcing landscape maintenance is just that; there is no assurance that the financial assumptions presented by City staff will ultimately prove out. Based on figures provided by City staff, the two-month delay in bidding translates to a speculative lost opportunity cost of $50,000 (i.e., [$300,000/12] x 2 months). In summary: (i) the potential savings from outsourcing  is entirely speculative; (ii) the lost opportunity cost quoted by Sharkey is far less than what is calculated; and (iii) the long-term benefit of making improvements in the bid process far outweighs the two-month delay for which Sharkey and Schnopp are responsible.

 

STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY: We need some sort of revenue generator that will likely entail a tax. “Where I want to go is to examine these alternatives [assessment districts, business license tax increases and public safety tax parcel tax”]) and let the public decide.” We must get these on the ballot and we’ve already lost two years in getting these options before the voters because of a deadlocked Council.

 

Fact #1: The incumbent majority (Breeze, Sharkey and Schnopp) has controlled decision making since 2014 by Sharkey’s self-declared political alliance (http://tomfigg.com/assets/ Conduct_Unbecoming60932.pdf). This alliance was reinforced with the removal of Figg and Hensley from committee assignments along with the withholding of Mayoral appointments last year (http://www.ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/11092015-278; http://www.ci. port-hueneme.ca.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/12072015-284). In short, the incumbent majority has controlled decision making since January 2015, yet they have failed to accomplish any meaningful initiatives over the course of the past two years.

 

Fact #2: Revenue raising ideas were introduced to the incumbent majority as early as April 6, 2015 (http://www.ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/04062015-233). This initial introduction was followed by broader slate of ideas that were presented in July 2015 (http://www.ci.port- hueneme.ca.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/07062015-252) and again in September 2015 (http://www.ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/09282015-267) but were likewise rejected. In summary, efforts by minority members of the Council to press forward on revenue raising measures (including tax alternatives) have been repeatedly rejected by the incumbent majority. Consequently, the opportunity cost of not proceeding with revenue alternatives sooner rather than later is fully attributable to Breeze, Sharkey and Schnopp.

 

STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY: These past two years, we’ve seen a major brain drain in managers. “I’m not even the real Mayor, I’m just the acting Mayor.” The loss of our Department Heads and other key staff is attributed to the toxic environment that has occurred since the election of 2014.

 

Fact #1: The toxic environment to which Mr. Sharkey refers started long before the departure of key staff members. This is evidenced by: (i) the spike in workers compensation and personal liability claims for actions dating back to 2010 during the term of Sharkey, Schnopp and Green; (ii) the destabilizing effects of turnover in City Managers and Chiefs of Police since 2000 which has occurred during the collective terms of the incumbent majority (most notably, the $188,000 compensatory payout to former City Manager Dave Norman and former Policy Chief Kathleen Sheehan in 2012); and (iii) the vote of no- confidence from rank-and-file employees against former City Manager Cynthia Hass and Finance Director Robert Bravo in early 2015 (http://tomfigg.com/assets/Incumbent_Performance_Timeline.pdf).

 

Fact #2: The self-characterization of Jonathan Sharkey not being a “real Mayor” stands on its own. It is particularly revealing that Mayor ProTem Sharkey declined to take questions regarding his State of the City address from those in attendance (http://porthuenemeca.suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player. aspx?id=188&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0). This is not representative of the Council and undermines the whole concept of government transparency and openness.

 

STATEMENT BY JON SHARKEY: The City’s insurance underwriter (California Joint Powers Insurance Authority “CJPIA”) has threatened to cancel coverage for the City. This is attributable to the actions of unnamed Councilmembers [impliedly blamed on Councilmembers Tom Figg and Jim Hensley; in particular, a claim filed by former City Manager, Cynthia Haas in early 2016 against Figg and Hensley].

 

Fact #1: Eight personal liability employee claims have been filed over the past 18 months ending June 2016. Several of these claims have morphed into lawsuits with a potential risk exposure to the City of more than $10 million. Of these filings, fully 50% name the former City Manager, Cynthia Haas as the centerpiece of harassment and retaliation (https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-y1wT-oQZbWM/V0dGp44m- 6I/AAAAAAAAAGg/9SIox_47OvYu9CLhozdeQ5N2FJ37L3p_ACLcB/s1600/Just%2Bthe%2BFacts%2B%2523 2_Page_3.jpg). Similarly, the City has seen spike in worker’s compensation claims dating back to 2012 with a total payout of $1.8 million.

 

Fact #2: The combination of worker’s compensation and personal liability claims pertain to matters that go as far back as 2010, covering a period that predates the election of Figg and Hensley (http://tomfigg.com/assets/Incumbent_ Performance_ Timeline.pdf). When questioned at a public meeting as to the cause of CJPIA’s warning and requirement that the City be placed on a Performance Improvement Plan, it was made abundantly clear that the concerns arise from a series of events over a prolonged period of time and no one incident was the cause of the actions taken (http://porthuenemeca.suiteoneadmin.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=2&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0).

 

Editor’s note: Mayor ProTem Sharkey hasn’t yet replied to our request for comment. If he does, we shall publish it.


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Eileen Tracy
Eileen Tracy
4 years ago

Thank you, Council member Figg. As a newcomer to the city, it is refreshing to get the other side of the story. I was grateful to see the State of the City recording as well. At some levels of government it is common to get the report from elected government reps, followed by the opposition I think this would be a big improvement in our local cities.
Because governments who are mindful of the opposition are, in face, better governments.
You make some valid arguments.