Oxnard City Council 10-1-13- Toland/Waste Management landfill deals, Recycling Plant takeover, flood mitigation plan

Paul Beard 10-2=3-13 015By George Miller

Highlights:

– Toland Landfill trash disposal debated, discount accepted, drug Waste Management proposal deferred.

– Del Norte Recycling plant city takeover reaffirmed, discussed

– Flood Protection Plan presented, discussed (photo- left)

 

Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video
City Council Meeting October 1, 2013 06h 55m Agenda Video

 

Landfill trash disposal proposal debated

The Council continued discussion of the VRSD (Ventura Regional Sanitation District) bid, voted to accept it, also discussed Waste Management contract, deferred vote on it.

Two reps from Ventura County Taxpayers’ Association (David Grau and a colleague) strongly opposed the plan, on grounds of VRSD financial weakness, lack of capacity (see their two previous editorials in CJ), rate increase clauses, rate stability risk. Disputed whether favorable volume variances would improve profitability.

VRSD officials and board members strongly endorsed it and addressed weaknesses. They say capacity can be increased via shifting materials, drying improvements, working Saturdays. Higher volume that Oxnard offered is needed to make VRSD financially stronger.

Mayor Flynn stressed the need to maintain multiple facilities for capacity and competition. Mayor Pro-Tem Ramirez reinforced that and stressed the need to address greenhouse gases and work with residents on recycling optimization. Councilman Perillo emphasized  the need for workers to receive a “living wage.” Councilman MacDonald said we at least “have a seat at the table” (Board membership) at VRSD, drying reduces tonnage measured in quotas, Waste Management exclusivity clause is objectionable (Ramirez also mentioned that).  An alternative Calabasas site was mentioned and discounted due to much higher rates and questionable availability. Rate increase terms were deemed objectionable.

 

Del Norte Recycling plant city takeover reaffirmed, discussed (Agenda: K-2)

City reaffirmed financial feasibility and more than doubled estimates of improvements from last week’s to $2.182 million in annual savings. It was pointed out that $30-60 million may be needed for capital expenditures for equipment/technology repairs, upgrades, replacement. Plant can’t meet current state mandates, which will likely get much tougher (see last week’s meeting report in CJ).

There are significant problems with human resources: can/should all existing employees be utilized, what would be their job classifications, description, compensation. Will City need to use contractors?

Republic Services (the existing operator) reaffirmed its assessment of the downside of the switch, but offered its  full support. It is conceivable that they could be asked to extend the contract in part or in full.

A speaker mentioned that City financial estimates are being compared to a baseline established by what the City already determined to be a flawed contract.  Mr. Rydberg, the Oxnard Capital Investment Project Manager, stated that they have been contemplating this for 17 years, planned it 11 years ago, plant construction/operation is within the capabilities of Oxnard Public Works Dept., which is already performing the more complex operation of the Wastewater facility. There are some risks, to be managed via planning, safety management and training. He sees 15-20+% savings improvement potential over current situation.

Capital expenditures would be for loaders, lifters, repairs to building and sorting equipment, upgrades to meet pending regulatory requirements. While rate stability is a goal, regulatory change compliance will likely force rates upward.

Paul Beard 10-2=3-13 014Consultant Dr. Teng (photo- left)was back at the meeting, He offers a 2 year Solid Waste Management certificate course (also medical and chemical waste). He said that 25 years ago, California was considered the leader in solid waste management benchmarking, but no longer. Dr. Teng stated that Southern Californians produce the most waste per person in the world, but have some of the cheapest rates.  He said new regulatory requirements after the next 2-3 years are largely unknown. He added that  high-tech waste management solutions have fairly stable costs, but much higher performance.

Todd Housley, who will run the plant after takeover, said that the plant’s “LEA” (Law Enforcement Agency), which authorizes it to operate, requires a functional/manning match to the current operation, which limits flexibility.  However, the staffing numbers he mentioned still don’t equal what Republic said last week that they currently have. Union rules will further constrain recruiting, staffing and operations.  All of the transition activities are putting a big strain on multiple City departments being called upon to support it. Some position hiring “freezes” need to be unfrozen to enable all this.

Public comments were mostly very positive.  However, existing employees expressed concern. The City has not, nor cannot, guarantee them all jobs, in spite of previous assurances to the contrary.    There was also some concern over rate stability.

Multiple council members don’t feel that a four month takeover plan is wise, or even attainable. Actual performance may dictate changes in plans.  But, for now, they forge ahead- motion carried.

Flood Protection Plan presented, discussed

VenturaWatershedProtDistOxnard lies in a flood plain. Upstream stormwater can and has caused floods in the past. Development has actually heightened the risk. Existing flood protection construction is aged, deficient and should be improved to avoid/mitigate potential catastrophic (“100 year”) flooding.

A sweeping, ambitious, detailed and well thought out ($68 million in next 5 years) plan to mitigate potential flooding was produced. It was presented by Watershed Protection District officials Tully Clifford, District Director and Gerald Kapuscik, Manager of Strategic Decision Support Group and Levee Certification. The district encompasses 1800 square miles and includes Ventura River, Santa Clara River, Calleguas Creek, Cuyama River and Malibu Creek in 10 cities and unincorporated areas. Included are 209 miles of channels, 68 of levees, 44 major detention basins and 4 pumping plants.

The plan will require levee enhancement, groins and flood channel enhancement. The channel going through South Oxnard and Port Hueneme could optionally be covered to mitigate hazards and neighborhood disruption.

A large portion of the $68MM[D1]  for the next 5 years has already been secured, but much more is needed in grants/appropriations.  Additional bond debt may be required to fill the gap. That means still more taxes, folks. Given the risks stated, this does not seem very discretionary.  Money is to come from property taxes, investment income (tiny), land development fees and operational funding. Some grants (state/federal) will figure into all this. This is planned as an overall 11 year effort. Finance dictates the long duration.

The U.S. Army Core of Engineers is the controlling authority in all this. FEMA is also involved, which could make it even more “interesting.”  County of Ventura and Watershed Protection District also figure into this.  The District has managed all of these formidable complexities and constraints to get where they are.

Steve Nash pointed out that there is an earthquake fault right down the middle of the river and wonders if this was factored into plans- no evidence of that was presented at the meeting.

Tully Clifford- Director: [email protected]

Investment policy and Treasurer’s authorization discussed, approved

NavasDanielleTreasurer Danielle Navas (photo-left) presented Oxnard’s investment plan, which appeared to consist mainly of carrying out detailed state investment guidelines and reviewing outside brokerage recommendations and transactions. The state guidelines emphasize safety, liquidity and yield and assume that government paper, high-grade commercial paper and money market are the “safest” investments.  The Treasurer’s salary ($172, 000 total comp.)  vs. value-added was  criticized during public comment period.  The Treasurer position is an independent, elected office, unaccountable to Council. Is Treasury audited?  Total portfolio is $98MM (million), yield was $1MM. A question came up about an alleged $57MM in Money Market investments, which the current Treasurer said she knew nothing about and said she wasn’t responsible for. Councilman Perillo raised a question about $5MM in City interest rate swaps (derivative) losses. No one could explain it adequately. The Council voted to validate the Treasurer’s continued charter.

 

Unlicensed homes debated.

A delegation from the Wilson neighborhood noted that here are many homes for people in various types of distress. Some are deemed to be nuisances by residents. Many of these are unlicensed.  While the Wilson neighborhood was highlighted, but these homes are elsewhere, too, as noted in public comment and by Councilmembers. No conclusions were reached, but Council took note of the seriousness of the situation and this issue will be back.

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George Miller is a “retired” operations management consultant and a Citizen Journalist, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

 

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