Oxnard City Council sets recall election schedule, receives CAFR report and more

By George Miller

The most important item at the 1-23-18 Oxnard City Council meeting was setting a May 1, 2018 date for the recall election and related discussions.  Nominations start THIS Thursday, January 25. Story appears further down below.

Auditors and staff presented what they say was a”clean audit,” with most disastrous findings of the past resolved and much progress on important Finance Dept. tasks. But some significant issues remain.

Council also approved the Redevelopment  Successor Agency’s annual payment schedule and the purchase of it’;s Maulhardt Winery building property for the city.

 

NAME DATE AGENDA EVENT
City Council Meeting 1-23-18 Agenda View Event

 

Public comments

Daniel Chavez, Jr. (is back- again declaring his intention to run for City Council). Not confident that his city is being taken care of. Concerned about poor condition of roads, pavement, markings. Re: District elections- likes Map 622, 2 districts only in north, 2 in south, 2 run north and south.

Martin Jones- Wants 8 districts, thinks small districts are more representative. Had a district voting ballot measure years ago- lost. It’s for “equality.” Council is primed to gerrymander them. Glad that “everybody” is now interested in doing this.

Bruce Boyer- Running for VC sheriff. Said all Council needs to be fired for “wastewater tax.” Said he will have nice jail cells for them in the County.

Announced VC Sheriff candidate Bruce Boyer. Photo: Screen grab from Council meeting video

Robert Frank- Likes a combo of both local and at large voting districts .

Ms. Montez- Homeless woman- wants help. Mayor ProTem Ramirez directed her to some help.

Christopher Camacho- Has new salon/barber shop at Wooley & J St.  Street. Complained about street crime- drugs, prostitution, break-ins. Revolving door justice. Asked for help. Said a cop (or ex-cop?) told him it was a lost cause.  Flynn promised action, said that there is no lost cause in Oxnard.

Pat Brown- opposed to recall special election. Said it is all about getting one guy on the City Council. Wants to take over a large building on edge of town and put all the homeless people there. Said that people have no right to camp on the beach.

Samuel Thompson- Manages EcoHomes USA. Wants to help with homeless and affordable housing. Proposed solution at $100/sq ft.  Tried to get city interested. Heard nothing at all back. Asks what might he have to do- trying to help city. Says FEMA likes his approach. Has GSA approval and 97% favorable evaluation. Sent letter to another city. But had next morning interest from Santa Paula City Mgr.  But not Oxnard.

 

Interim City Manager Scott Whitney general comments

Guarantees response to Wooley and J situation. Parks commission meeting Wed, Ox Shores Neigh Council meetings. Proposed district election meetings upcoming (check City website). City may owe you money. This is Oxnard Restaurant Week (see city site Oxnard.org). Road resurfacing: Colonia now in progress. Utility rate assistance program for indigent started- up to $10/month. RE: Halaco- all homeless residents now evacuated from site- cleanup in process. Planning Director Ashley Goldenm is interim Asst. City Mgr. Jesus Nava now has Public Works, Finance, reporting to him. Ingrid Hardy now reporting to Ashley Golden, Interim Asst. City Manager. Rosemary Gaglione (formerly Goleta Public Works Director) is now Oxnard Public Works Director NG. Thien is now Asst. Director (was Interim Public Works Director).

Rosemary Gaglione, new Oxnard Public Works Director

Council General Comments

Oscar Madrigal- ODI meeting 530 Wednesday- Heritage Square. Oxnard HS at PACC-Speaker Martin Gonzalez author of I Do- about Oxnard stigma.

Carmen Ramirez- Congrat police/fire for successful Halaco effort. It is a toxic waste site. Other citie also have major homeless crisis., Attributed to lack of housing. Wants some downtown. New Downtown Dev. Director. Miscommunication about IDE being in our town- false. Whitney said narcotics search warrant turned into an ICE raid rumor-false. It as a Sheriff’s Dept, task force. Team included 5 CA National Guard members- this will no longer happen.

Bryan MacDonald- Will be in OC Monday- becoming Chair of a rail commission. Arranged rail and bus transit to and within Montecito. Private planes were made available Charter vessels also provided transit.

Bert Perello- Tx. Asst Chef Sonstegard resolved  a restoration of property. Agrees with Chavez comments about road markings. Attended Dist election meeting at PACC. Re: Social media attacks- you open yourselves to libel and slander. Gatekeepers watch- some falsehoods. Gonzalez hit and run- please say something if you saw (call police). 50th anniversary of Tet Offensive- Navy John Chanley (Shanley?) of Oxnard- Tet Offensive hero to be awarded Navy Cross.

Tim Flynn- His father John Flynn’s 85th birthday. Many homeless have mental health issues. Will meet with SD Mayor Faulkner re: homeless solutions.  District elections- good discussions- but does not want 2 addl seats on council. Wil force a full time City Council. Pushed his proposed committee system. Will bring City Council a proposal for safe homes and families proposal (inspections), Described as “third world conditions …. in a first world country. Much work on CAFR- 2 public meetings deferred. Item 1 page 4in tonight’s agenda.

 

L-4- Special recall election schedule, regulations

Aaron Starr successfully collected 68,000 signatures for a recall initiative/special election for Mayor Flynn, Mayor ProTem Ramirez, Councilmen Perello and Madrigal, Enough of these signatures were validated  for certification (greater than 15%of registered voters). City Clerk Michelle Ascencion demanded a 100% check of signatures. County completed the count on 12-29-17. The City had to schedule a special election, which staff recommended for May 1 or May 7. Council picked May 1, and set 1-25-18 as nominations start and 2-15-18 as closing date.

By law, election must  be in 125 days after certification of the petition signatures.  April 24-May 22 range. Ascencion recommended May 1 or May 8, to Allow sufficient nomination/campaign time. She thought that a 2 week nomination was too short and that a  May 15-22 election date starts to intrude upon county prep for the June 5 primary.

Candidates must declare who they are running against. Voters will first vote on whether to recall each incumbent targeted, then determine who they want to replace that candiae, if they had opted to remove them

Last recall was 2006 Rio School district.

Public comment

Edward Sherer- Mayor shouldn’t have taken a comment on this item earlier in the meeting as he  did. Period is much too short, undemocratic.

Larry Stein- I am running for Mayor. How soon can I start printing up my campaign signs? Prefer election in April.  Cost of special election- $200,00? $500,000? Affect on General Fund?

Alicia Percell- City Clerk says special election cost is not known, but Percell says that it will be higher than original estimated due to City delays- full petition count delayed process by a month. Another deliberate delay- stalking/interference with recall signature gatherers. She cited Roger Poirier, Barbara, Macri-Ortiz, INCO Leaders Aaron Greer, Steve Nash and others as the guilty parties, claiming thatv their goal was to slow down or block the recall petition effort.

Aaron Starr- Another reason you’re being recalled is your overturning peoples’ will on Measure M. Re: Letters of Credit- CFO Throop authenticated a  modified L/C. I don’t think that was true. We were told there would be an amendment. That is not true.  Mayor Flynn stopped Starr in his tracks, claiming he was off agenda topic.

Peggy Rivera- Says no truth in Alicia Percell’s statement that people were delaying petition signature collection.

Pat Brown- May 1 or 8 would be good.  Everyone would be gone in June. Will vote againsy

Solidad ?- We are here on deceit. May 8 is perfect. You (Council) did what you had to do and are being persecuted’

(CD 26 Congressioal candidate) Jeff Burum- County would not be available to help after 4-1-18. What does that mean?  April should be sufficient time. You have nothing to fear about this process.

City Clerk Michelle Ascencion answering questions- Re: Holding hold election earlier as some requested? 88-125 days is the election code. We can’t change. Must cancel council meeting on the Tuesday election is held. Can’t put up campaign  signs until you are officially a candidate., County will still play some role. They are tied up with primary countywide.  Probably fewer polling locations for this special el;ection-approx 20.

Council Comments

Oscar Madrigal- OK with May 1 or 8. Won’t touch cost issue. Want every single vote counted, in case it’s close.

Carmen Ramirez- Lots of work. Appreciate that friends supported her, Council was very courageous, has backbone. Want earliest possible election convenient to Clerk’s office.

Bryan MacDonald- Recall, time limits are mandated. This is Michelle’s first special election. Resources limited. No confusion, it’s available resources.  Who certifies? someone answered “City Clerk.” Wants May election.

Bert Perello- Has handout being distributed at meeting: Perello Statement on Recall Election Comm Plan. What is latest the election could be?  Concerns: Need to know weekly what is going on, problem, costs. This is City Clerk’s job. What has it already cost? What will we get- a private source election vendor? 32,000 absentee voters. How many polling places and where? Total estimated cost? One Councilman slipped through recall net (MacDonald). Want milestones, dates, weekly meetings on election. Mayor, when you cut off discussion, you jeopardize your chances in the recall,

Tim Flynn- There have been accusations of both delaying or accelerating election date. He wants May 1. Encourage as many people as possible to vote in this election. Since 1911, a CA recall election can be held for ANY reason or none. Good opportunity for public to weigh in on Council leadership, transparency and honesty,

Perello-still waiting for my questions to be answered. You just took over, Mayor. What is end date for filing?

Ascencion- Nomination must close at least 76 days before election-   February 15 for May 1, Feb 22 for May 8 election.

Perello- what about May 22? Others want it sooner- mostly May 1.

Ramirez moved the question- for May 1 election.

Perello wants amendment for weekly election status update. Accepted.

Unanimously approved

Candidate nominations start this Thursday 1-25-18, close 2-15-18. Candidates call 385-7803, to schedule a  30 minute orientation.

 

L-1 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

CFO Jim Throop thanked staff for their good and hard work. Removed the dreaded “qualified findings” and now have a clean audit. This is a great accomplishment, given where the City was just a couple of years ago.

Discussion focused on Finance Dept. accomplishments and some exception items, but didn’t actually get into the meat of most of the CAFR numbers.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software RFP (Request For Proposal) closed and will start evaluations  next month

Have much cleaned up the Landscape Maintenance District fiasco. Contracts are being cleaned up. Fund deficits resolved. MIke Gleason, who initiated the clean up demands, doesn’t seem to be in total agreement on this.

Old Redevelopment Agency ROPs (obligation payments) cleaned up.

Bank reconciliation problems resolved. Getting training for Finance staff on systems, practices.

Ready to implement utility rate changes.

Now tracking single source purchasing instances. Improved solicitation process. Will establish a sinking fund for vehicle replacement.  Internal auditor now on board.

Will have resolved negative audit findings a year ahead of schedule.

New credit card policy.

New financial system will be a huge job It will include new chart of accounts, new technology. New ERP system to incorporate  a reporting “dashboard.”

Re: PERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System)- will create an educational workshop for Council on this- what it is , how it works, etc.

Outside auditor Eden Casareno of Eadie + Payne spoke on the audit/CAFR. Her firm has done annual audit for last three years:

Described these as major accomplishments:

  • Increased wastewater rates
  • City completed physical inventory
  • Hired Mgmt. Partnerts to create corrective action plan for audit problems
  • Reconciled majority of balance sheet accounts

Problems:

  • Non-compliance with rate covenants
  • Letter of credit uncertaibty
  • New accounting regs (“pronouncements): GASB 74, 75
  • Failed to reconcile notes rec, grants receivable., deferred revenue, self insurance liabilities, net pension liabilities and oter post-employment liabilities. 
  • $8MM in adjustments (way lower than last years  $3.6MM self insurance adj, was the largest,

Government-wide financial statements:

Budget was $128MM

Revenue increased by $26MM, expenses by $4MM, special items of $14MM. Capital assets increased by $586MM (prior period adjustments- just apepergain).

Perello asked why the surprise $586MM. Casareno said it was because a physical inventory had not been taken in a long time.

2017 SCO (State Controller’s Office) report to be complete this month. 2017 single audit in process.

Most of the actual CAFR numbers were not discussed.

Public comment

Larry Stein- Wants questions previously submitted to be answered, angry when they were not. Brown Act does  not require public speaker questions to be answered as they are asked at meetings. He was heated and angry. Flynn said ask them. But they were not answered. Stein is known for bombarding the city with information requests and behaving as a self appointed “watchdog.” He is often proven right in his assertions about problems and suggested fixes. (Note: Stein announced at this meeting that he will be running against Flynn for Mayor).

Aaron Starr- Re $562MM capital asset adjustment. Was this done by consultants with best guess? Are there poor historical records? Is the system in place to prevent a recurrence of this? What about inconsistencies between financial reports and what was testified to in court? (Oxnard vs Starr case).  Potential  $8.5MM in potential refunds were adjusted to $6.8MM. Starr’s lawyer showed why in court,

Alicia Percell- A5MM shortfall in water fund, per CAFR. But according to a data request, $3MM was taken out via infrastructure use fee Which Sarr is suing the City on because he says it is illegal to levy such fees), so City caused the problem, Much more taken out from all three utilities in recent years.

Flynn asked Throop to answer questions posed by Starr. Throop said it would require more research. Flynn asked for response in an expeditious manner and said Stein questions were “chronic” and require not just data, but research. Throope said that City did use consultant (HCA used) as Starr hypothesized, to do the fixed asset inventory, Agrees with Starr that a process is needed, is confident City will have. Agreed that there were inconsistencies in statements vs court testimony and agreed with Starr again.

Council comments

Oscar Madrigal- Hard to judge public safety fund requirments due to emergencies.

Carmen Ramirez- Warned public that fixed assets are not liquid. Has been a painful process, progress much appreciated. Thanks to staff, auditors.

Bryan MacDonald- Now tracking things we were never tracking. He attributed to GASB regulations (only partially true). He said in the past when he was responsible for budgets, he balanced out line item overspends with offsetting underspends. Said that is common. (Larry Stein has railed against that for years).

Bert Perello-  Staff sometimes takes his questions personally. He says it is juts “business”. On audit reports, committees don’t report back to council. He said that this is the first he had seen of this. (Note: Perello was on the Finance Committee, but as remove by Mayor Flynn, who substituted himself, over Perello’s vehement objections). Re: Letter of credit uncertainty- tems unresolved,. Re self-insurance liabilities and “things like that”- what things? Who’s responsible for signing the checks- auditor didn’t step up to it. Only one person responsible- CFO has sole responsibility. Wants Treasurer included. Re; $14 MM Successor Agency amount. Are we at 18% general fund reserves? Why was this not even brought up? Our bond rating still at risk. $586MM gain in assets- astonished by this. Appreciated that things cleaned up- what about landscape Maintenance District? Objected to 5 minute time limitation.

Tim Flynn- Very concerned about pension liabilities- want to make sustainable. GASB (accounting regulation) is forcing cities to include unfunded liabilities in CAFR. In an article it said that it was growing from 36% of spending in year to 70%- Oxnards $110MM in pension liabilities represents 85% of General Fund.  Thinks stock market returns will offset pension liabilities. Will Have to shore up pension funds with city funds.  Ventura is experiencing huge increases in pension payments. Need a collaborative approach. Don’t wait until bargaining unit contract negotiation time.  Congratulated Finance onn 33 major accomplishments last year.

Perello asked for answers to his questions, including discrepancies in Oxnard vs. Starr court testimony, including letter of credit terms. Asst. City Manger Nava- City has three outstanding Letters of Credit one in closing stages -wastewater. Two more remaining for General Fund- working on these.  Perello wants to see the email that City outside Counsel Holly Whatley  referred to in court earlier this month. Nava said JP Morgan said they want assurances that reductions in rates will not be made. Statements in court by City officials were  that this provision wwould be deleted. Why successor agency amounts increasing? Transferred from fiduciary to Ge. Amounts have fluctuated. Now $9.9 MM per Casareno. Nava will organize a matting to go over ROPs questions for Perello. Perillo wants a monthly dashboard to address reserves. Wanted to know some significant sources of $586 MM capital assets adjustment’

Voted to accept reports- unanimous.

 

J- Information Consent Agenda

Item 3-Perello looked at audit findings- what about police uniforms impacting police compensation and are other depts. impacted by this finding?

Item 4- What are best practices for water well and machinery inspection? Asst Public Works Director Thien said we have 10 drinking water wells and that these are the last two. After this, there will likely be a 7-10 year preventive maintenance program. Thien said high mineral content groundwater is very corrosive. Need 5-7 year inspection period or go to stainless steel. Perello said these hadn’t been done for 12 years.

Approved unanimously.

 

K-1-  Housing – Lw and Very Low income housing continued to a future meeting Tuesday 2-3-18

K-2- Permit for 5489 Saviers Road- continued until 4-2-2018

 

L-2 Successor Agency disposition of 720 South B St. (Maulhardt Winery Building)

This is one of many properties that must be disposed of per requirements  of the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies which this property was part of. Staff report recommends that City buy it, even though its not the best bid.

Original estimate of worth was $300,000. Broker estimate of value was $70,000. Received multiple offers. Oxnard Peace Officers bid of $190,000 w/no voting right or $100,000 without voting rights, Guerrero bid $185K, Friends Of Heritage Square bid $25,000 + credit for volunteer hours), City of Oxnard offered $50,000.

Public comments

Daniel Chavez, Jr.- City’s offer makes no sense- why take on those expenses when there are offers on the table to buy it without voting rights?

Council comments

Oscar Madrigal- Originally said no, still no. Don’t change the rules during the process.

Carmen Ramirez- wants city to buy it- Heritage Square was big commitment by the City, historical significance/tourist attraction- actually belongs to residents/taxpayers. Important investment in the City’s future.

Bryan MacDonald- Interested in cultural/historical aspects. Wants City to buy it.

Bert Perello- What was the vote for City to buy this property? It was a closed session vote. Public has a right to know. Would we have to bring it up to ADA requirements?  There are better offers. Does not support City purchase.

Tim Flynn- Closed session vote was 3-2 for, with Perello and Madrigal dissenting. Heritage Square is Oxnard’s #1 historical cultural asset,

Voted 3-2 again for City to buy it.

 

L-3- Redevelopment Successor Agency Recognized Obligation Schedule (ROPS)

This is to dispose of former Redevelopment Agency properties, which City is being forced to dispose of due to requirements of a state law dissolving such agencies statewide.  The City still has significant liabilities to pay off.

Per Eco Dev Manager Kimberly Horner, here were 102 properties/items, now down to about 30.

Decisions on disposition must go through a formidable bureaucracy, including Required approval by:

Successor Agency (“SA”)
Oversight Board (“OB”)
State Department of Finance (“DOF”)

Council comments

Oscar Madrigal- Thanks for presentation.

Bryan MacDonald- No Comments

Carmen Ramirez- Thanks. Upset that we are not allowed to retain these properties

Bert Perello- took issues with reasons previously given tonight for dissolution. There was much abuse which drove this. No property taxes if City buys properties? Horner- depends on building use.

Tim Flynn- Are transactions done for previous sale of 740 South B Street (La Dolce Vita restaurant site)?

The amounts and justifications of millions in scheduled payments were never even presented or discussed before they were unanimously approved

 

L-5- Award of 29 month contract for Riverpark landscape maintenance.

Quickly approved unanimously without much debate, for $1,054, 005.

 

George Miller is Publisher, Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard


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One Response to Oxnard City Council sets recall election schedule, receives CAFR report and more

  1. Tom January 24, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    From the 1/23/2018 City Council meeting.

    Subj: Oxnard Police Officers Association Classification and Salary Schedules and Side Letter Agreement.

    In the past, the city has failed to provide CalPERS with the cost of city provided uniforms and salary schedules for all employees.

    “According to CalPERS the classification and pay schedules must contain the hourly, monthly, and annual rates of pay for each classification and that the document must be posted publicly and approved by City council. Normally this would be done through the annual budget process, however in the 2012/13 and the 2013/14 budget years the classifications with only the salary code were posted. To rectify this issue, CalPERS is asking the City to have the City Council reapprove the classification and salary listings with the information as required.”

    Only one problem. In the cities response, approved by the city council last night, it provides only the bi-weekly rate for mid/top management and only the hourly rate for all other employees.

    Reply

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