Oxnard Sets 5 Year Priorities; Trying to Sock Residents With More Taxes; Licenses 19 Pot Businesses

By George Miller

The Oxnard City Council, on 3-16-21, voted to accept 5 year priorities* developed via surveys and previous meetings; made a host of additional commission/committee appointments, with more coming; Ventura County is moving from COVID “purple tier” restrictions to “red tier” (less restricted) on 3-17-21- still many constraints; Cannabis sales have skyrocketed, 16 permits issued- 13 retail, 3 for local “equity” applicants; City management is pushing a contentious plan to force Landscape Management Districts (LMD’s) into Mello-Roos Community Funding Districts (CFD’s), lump in common areas and is billing the LMD’s for the city’s sales campaign for public acceptance- it would have the effect of removing much spending from the general fund and shifting more burden to property owners/renters- not on agenda- yet; restructured financial chart of accounts/reporting; a large amount of money was authorized for various public works projects with zero opposition from officials and the public.

*Council members had mixed thoughts/feelings on how well the priorities were developed. They cited lack of time and inadequate funding to address even badly needed priorities. Some members of the public objected to important items left out and no cost estimates. City Manager Nguyen and others think priorities will likely change greatly over the five year horizon. Things such as the flood levies were cited as must haves due to the high potential downside of not doing them.  There will likely be more work done on this.

Meeting AGENDA MATERIALS, VIDEO

Agenda Item E- Public Comments on Items Not on the Agenda

Doug Partello- Long history of LMD (Landscape Management District) mismanagement. Promises made for Measure O and E use of funds. “ReNew” program threatens to impose Mello-Roos taxes. Useless CAG’s (Citizen Advisory Groups). 30% of our LMD monies are going for community action- $400,000 plus. He summarized his recent Citizens Journal article. Serious questions on admin fees paid to General Fund. Some LMD’s charged 2-3X actual costs. 2016 audit is still confidential by council vote- claiming atty-client privilege and other excuses. New council should act to clean up, prioritize this mess and give us the audit. Paid for things mainly not done/poorly done. Horrible past performance.

Steve Nash- Urged Council to honor Lupe Andriano- she worked with Caesar Chavez, was National Farm Workers officer and much more. She has moved to Arizona and is now 93. Nash wants to make Carnegie Museum into a museum of Latino art.

Lupe Adriano in action at the 5-21-19 Oxnard City Council meeting

Larry Stein- Re: closed item meeting- wasn’t able to access even with password. Public works officials won’t return his calls. What are water credits, how much do we generate and use each year? Thinks there are unused ones and we are getting no benefits from them. Customers are getting GREAT (recycled) water, but not paying their share. City denies it is breaking the law.

Alicia Percell- She is an officer of Moving Oxnard Forward. Attended ReNew meetings on special taxes for LMD. Attendees not support converting to Mello Roos and paying taxes. People object to paying for its promotion- $400K+ vs $1.4 MM total LMD budget. Want money to be used for actually maintaining the landscaping. Sec. 22655 describes restrictions on use of funds- ONLY for district improvements. Your attorneys will advise you this is legal, but they also advised that  infrastructure fees were legal (city lost $34MM suit on this).

Aaron Starr- Exchanged emails with City Mgr re: Measure M. City is not following public access rules. Never able to see live meeting broadcast on Channel 35. Requested that it appear on public access schedule- not being done now.  Wants public schedule. City applied for restraining order- court rules for Measure M. Give Council members a copy of Roberts Rules of Order and get training on it. Re: LMD- disclose contents of it. It was a 3-3 vote before. New Council should investigate.

Pat Brown- Really appreciate the fixing of Rice and Rose Ave from Wooley Road north- almost complete- wonderful. Truck traffic hogging Oxnard Blvd should go the opposite was via Rose and Rice Aves.

Maya C and brother- Want to keep environment clean, pick up cigarette butts. Work cleaning up with Pt Hueneme Mayor Gama weekly. Trash is washing into ocean/onto beaches. Want monthly free dumpsters to support resident cleanups. Or have multiple free dump days, trash pickup contests.

Mayor Zaragoza thanked people who have been doing cleanups

 

F- City Manager Report

COVID19 Update

By City Manager Alex Nguyen-

Moving from CA “purple” to “red” tier

  • Outdoor sports can resume. High contact sports only if coaches and player 13+ get weekly tests with results 24 hrs before competition. Coaches and spectators must wear face coverings and athletes when not  actually competing. See county website specifics on vcrecovery.org, sport button.
  • Retail open with commodification, to 50% capacity.
  • Malls open to 50% capacity. Common areas remain closed
  • Worship open to 25% capacity
  • Movies open 25% or 100 people
  • Fitness facilities- 10% capacity, including climbing walls
  • Restaurants- 25% of capacity
  • Wineries, breweries- outdoors only if food not served.
  • Outdoor live events with assigned seats and controlled seating not until April 1.

Passage of newest (federal) stimulus bill ($1.9 TRILLION), including local funding. Four main categories:  households, small businesses, nonprofits, govt COVID costs and lost revenue. Water, sewer and broadband funding. McConnell rule- stimulus funds can’t be used for local pensions. Working on regulations- awaiting these to do council recommendations for implementation’

Vaccination rollouts continue. At THE old Babies R Us facility- 2340 Rose Ave.  venturacountyrecovers site. Also at Southwinds Youth Center. 300 W. Santa Clara St.

Getting better but still in the midst of a pandemic. Several European countries worsening- entering another lockdown.

Please continue sanitation, distancing protocols.

State rent relief program beginning. Seek help- city and county staff willing to help  www.oxnard.org- see link to applications in English/Spanish. Hotline 833-430-2122 7-7 daily. Lots of money for Oxnard residents

Business assistance admin by county. for businesses and non-profits. VCbusinessgrants.org Week March 2-30. Application March 31-April 6. $5000 grants.

Oxnard Cultural and Community Services Dept working on COVID 19 situation. City directed them to focus on COVID response. FoodShare Distribution, COVID19 pop-up testing, vaccine sites, recreation, remind community and businesses of COVID resp, Provide shelter space. Established homework centers. Senior nutrition- hot meals to go and home del’y- 45,000+ meals by staff of 11. Food Share mega drive-in center at College Park. 300,000 (?!) individuals, 58,000 families, 70 thousand boxes of food. Testing sites staffed- 200 test daily capacity for walk-ups. 805 385-8315 hotline. Supporting traffic control at 2 vaccine sites. Vaccine appointment assistance hotline 805-385-8384.

Mayor Zaragoza- thanks to Terrell Harrison (Director,  Community Services) and staff for COVID work.

Nguyen, re cannabis licensing: Cannabis sales skyrocketed.  16 permits issued- 13 retail, 3 for local “equity” applicants. They have 12 months to go forward, obtain special use permits from Planning Commission for specific locations.

Council/Staff comments

Lopez- Thanks to staff for work on COVID. People- get your vaccinations. Perello and I went to Airport Authority meeting- they are working on a master plan for May 13 presentation

Perello- (organ?) Transplants risky, Science matters. Agrees with Nash to honor Lupe Andriano. Positive reports like Ms. Renshaws are positive- thanks to staff. Airport authority and Regional Sanitation meeting. Closed session item coming up- he will attend. Toland landfill extension is pending. Attended SCAG meeting. Wants the aforementioned audit released on LMD’s.  Discussed with Partello . (Partello later told me Perello was referring only to making it available to the Council). He claims some of Partello’s claims are false.

Teran- March 25 Channel Islands Neighborhood Council meeting on Zoom/Oxnard website/neighborhood services. Jack Villa looking to promote neighborhood Councils.  Illegal dumping is a problem- people don’t know where to dump. Dist 2 Townhall- March 31 at  bit.le.c2thm?  Equity Conference for educators  VCOE.org/equity.  Thanks to Community Services for good work- cost-effectiveness.

McDonald- Encourage all to get vaccination. Got it. Minimal side effects for him and family. Buses will return to a fare system. Will adopt similar fare media (tokens?).

Madrigal- Went to E.. Village neighborhood meeting. Informative- more so than City Council meetings. Please be careful- keep COVID procedures- Pandemic isn’t over. Back to school issues- day care, etc. Some residents not yet eligible for vaccination. He had a lot of side effects with Moderna vaccine. Thanks for Rice and Rose Ave work.

Basua- Fundraising National Alliance of Mental Illness.  Police Dept helping. Asked Chief Benitez to make remarks:

Benitez- put together staff for fundraising/raise mental illness awareness.

Zaragoza- Spoke to strawberry farm workers. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, don’t drink and drive- designate drivers. COVID prevention protocols. Had my shot. Get your shot. Going from purple to red status tonight. Support local business. Nominated Basua and Lopez for Coastal Commission.Hernandez of PH also nominated

Perello- upcoming 3.25 CI Council meeting.

 

G- Appointment to Commissions, Committees and Boards

Public Comments

Manuel Herrera- Thanks for excellent nominations.

Chris Hernandez- Vice Chair of 5 Points Council. Thanks for nomination to Parks Commission. Encourages CAG participation. Will help bring parks master plan to life.

Armando Delgado- Emergency rescue plan stretches out. Gold Coast carpenters congratulate officials for their work and dedication. Don’t like social media criticism of officials. You are doing a great job. Congrats to commission appointees.

MacDonald- It takes a village … You can still apply for CAGS.

Zaragoza- great to have these volunteers

List of nominees those D’s followed by numbers are election districts):

1. To Community Relations Commission: Adam Lopez (D3) and Khalilah Durias (D5);
2. To Parks and Recreation and Community Services Commission: Miguel Fernandez (D1) and
Chris Hernandez (D2);
3. To Commission on Homelessness: Ruby Durias (D4) and Alejandro Fregoso (D6);
4. To Cultural Arts Commission: Sandra Diaz (D3) and Michelle Ascension (D5);
5. To Planning Commission: Miguel Lopez (City at large) and Robert Sanchez (D4); and
6. To Mobile Home Park Rent Review Board: Erik Fruth; and
7. To Measure O Citizen Oversight Committee: Steven Nash (D1)
(This item did not originate in Committee)

More nominations at next Council meeting.

Vote: Unanimous yes 7-0

H-J- Consent Agenda

Public Speakers

Pat Brown- Endorses Walter Fuller for renewal of management/housing contract. Good at defusing tense situations. Knows all about the area birds- longtime interest.

Larry Stein- Why are we using water funds instead of General Fund money for this project? (for GREAT Project? he didn’t say). Says staff will not get back to him on this.

Christina Zubko- Friend of Ormond Beach- She contributes new/commentary to multiple media, including Citizens Journal. please renew Walter Fuller’s Ormond Beach management. Fuller has made a positive impact on Ormond Beach, crime prevention, wildlife preservation, education. Consider partnering with Port Hueneme on Ormond Beach.

Council

Perello had questions on items 1,6,8

1- Why didn’t this item didn’t come to his committee first? Answer- Tatiana Arnott- part of a previously approved program.

6- Re: Stein’s question. Will City Atty. please weigh in on alleged Prop 218 violation? City Atty Fischer- again denies any violation (this has gone on for years). Water meters- any lead in them? Omar Castro- Water Mgr.- no lead.

8- Re: member of public question on ambulance svce. Item calls for EMS billing services. Question on- 5 year term March 21-26. Whitman gets- 5% of net billing receipts, not to exceed $500K annually. $2.5 million  through March ’26. Why are we fronting them money? Answer CFO Riper- no budget appropriation. No budget item. Donna Ventura is leaving Finance Dept- was a great asset. (She has been credited with a significant role in turning around the Finance Dept.).

Lopez – Item 3 Ormond Beach services agreement- also endorses Fuller as a great asset.

Vote- Unanimous yes 7-0

 

K-1 – Chart of Accounts/ERP system

The city revised its chart of accounts as it was implementing the new ERP system, streamlining and exploiting the flexibility of state of the art financial systems tools, while simultaneously restructuring the accounts for efficiency and power of better financial management/accounting.

Ray Blattel- lack account number for Measure E., while Measure O did. But both are for General Fund. Measure E is forever. Thus, Measure E will be commingled with General Fund. Claimed it is impossible to track. Voters expected unique Measure E tracking.

Larry Stein- Commend Finance Dept. for changes to chart of accounts. Key to the financial system to categorize items for income statement and balance sheet. Controls were put in place. In the past, enterprise funds were moved into general fund. How will reports be maintained under the new chart of accounts? How to map old to new chart of accounts activity? Very hard to track legal fees in old system- how about in the new system?

Doug Partello- Response to Perello’s previous comments- he called me a liar. I should have the opportunity to respond. Mayor Zaragoza granted that. Partello: He may have misunderstood. His points were completely unrelated to mine. Doug had asked for an item to be placed on a future agenda. Want an item to vote on the LMD audit that was held secret. Other item was unrelated. also: need accountability (tracking) for Measure E money. It was done for Measure O and can be done for Measure E.

Aaron Starr- Kudos to Kevin Riper (CFO)- he asked Aaron to look at presentation- great way to handle it. My company converted to ERP in 2007. Usually a lot more expensive and time consuming than expected. It’s only useful if people are trained on it. Chart of accounts looks fine. Need to map old to new chart of accounts (Stein also asked for). Will also help determine if new COA is complete . Will also help transform financial statements and help restate old data for comparison., Response from Donna Ventura- Measure E separate fund- don’t need a separate fund to report on. Use project, program numbers. Separate fund not best practice. We have a translation table/map.  Built into the system. We have fewer accounts now. (It’s scary that they had to rely on the key person now leaving to explain that). Golf course was an enterprise fund, folded into General Fund because GF was funding it. That situation has turned around, This year it will be reclassified as an enterprise fund.

Nguyen- No one ever claimed it was a special tax or that it would be separably tracked. He claims Treasurer Molina complained that Measure O was separated. Claims make it sound like we can spend it on anything, but it can only be spent on allowable municipal expenses. Couldn’t purchase a sailboat, personal jet of Maserati for himself. We can track with current budget as a baseline and compare. (note: that is a bit deceptive, since no one claimed it would be spent for personal purposes but rather wanted to make sure it could be tracked against purported Measure E/O goals. But bottom line: even though both axes/funds were sold that way, they are merely general fund money with no legal requirement to separate/track and allocate the funds).

Zaragoza- cut 48 funds to 43 programs and eliminate a lot of accounts. Will be more efficient to manage.

Teran- Thanks for new, improved chart of accounts.  332 funds streamlined  to 48.

Lopez- Who maintains Chart of Accounts? Answer: Controller.

MacDonald- Kudos to staff. We had many accounts before and didn’t understand where money was and what it was for.

 

No vote required- report only

 

K-2- Award for Manhole Repair

Nguyen- I’m surprised that we’re still allowed to call it a manhole.

Vote Unanimous yes 7-0

 

K-3- City 5 Year Priorities

The Council and staff have been working on establishing 5 year priorities. The public and officials have been polled, met and discussed it. In a 6 1/2 hour marathon session, the Council hammered out a compromise solution which really pleased no one, but exposed the gap between needs, wants and means. It was presented pro forma, since they had previously agreed on this and just formally ratified it tonight.

We were a bit surprised at the lack of detail needed to flesh out the priorities. This is a “20,000 ft level flyover”, but still valuable.

From Oxnard 5 year priority survey

Major areas :

• Economic Development
• Quality of Life
• Public Safety
• Infrastructure and Natural Resources
• Organizational Effectiveness

Economic Development
1. Focus on business retention and expansion and new business attraction
2. Train and prepare residents for employment at local businesses through the Oxnard Employee Pipeline
3. Revitalize Hueneme/Saviers/Pleasant Valley/Channel Islands corridor
4. Renovate 4th St. between Downtown and train station to create a safe connection between the transit center and
downtown
5. Create a new Zócalo in South Oxnard



Quality of Life
1. Restore and enhance youth programs and launch the Oxnard Arts Academy for local youth in South Oxnard
2. Restore and enhance senior programs and build the Council-approved new Senior Center
3. Continue to address homelessness in Oxnard
4. Build an Aquatics Center in South Oxnard
5. Create process to study PACC and reopen the Carnegie Art Museum

Public Safety

1. Maintain 911 emergency response times
2. Maintain fire protection services
3. Restore Neighborhood Police program
4. Restore and possibly increase paramedic squads
5. Create a modern disaster preparedness program to prepare the City for response and recovery from earthquakes, flooding and other disasters
* Modest and incremental implementation of security cameras; data-driven by OPD
* Modest and incremental implementation of lifeguard program

Infrastructure and Natural Resources

1. Restore proper street paving cycle
2. Restore proper maintenance of parkways and medians, tree trimming cycle, and clean up the gateways to the City
3. Ensure adequate future water supply
4. Repair alleys
5. Repair seawalls

Organizational Effectiveness

1. Secure long-term financial sustainability
2. Replenish the City’s financial reserves and establish sufficient reserves to respond to disasters such as earthquakes and floods
3. Invest in appropriate staffing levels to get the job done
4. Strengthen the City’s cybersecurity
5. Invest in staff training and development

Public Comments

Larry Stein- 6 priorities identified. All 25 priorities were wrong. Some weren’t included.  How to set relative priorities between categories? Estimated costs not included. Public should know. Parks Master plan will need 60-80 million over 5 years. What about levies?  Not listed as a priority. Water priorities not specified.  GREAT program- where will money come from.

Tom Cady- Re: priorities. 2021-22 needs community assets assessment, such as Citicorp, apprentice programs, etc. Can we expand/enhance them? Leverage our funds with local programs. Example- Citicorp train for local resource enhancement.

Council/Staff Comments

Perello-SCR-1 Levy project protects 7600 people 1400 businesses, worth $488 ,000,000 . Another area worth $1,000,000,048. $345 million in potential flood damage.  Flooding in 1969, 2005 plus Montecito floods more recently.  This is a major looming issue.

Teran- Priorities significantly parallel Measure E. Public health and safety is a priority. Supports developed priorities.

Lopez- Challenging to identify priorities and attempt to narrow them down. Agree on levees. Major safety concern. Nguyen- yes difficult to set priorities to make them realistic. Re: levees- council recently approved only 2 items to focus federal funding on Halaco Superfund cleanup and finalizing levees.

Madrigal- Upset about entire priority process and how it went. Suggest something similar to Stein- focus on top 25. Everything for infrastructure was necessary. Could only pick some. We are getting more money (taxes, grants). Used analogy of a pizza to feed a whole family- limited slices. Also there is limited time to spend. Could have done a better job keeping the list short. Need a lot more money to do everything. To cover it all would have taken 18 hr meeting instead of 6.  But that was the final group decision majority vote.

Nguyen- will do one page summary with published budget. Time may change priorities, force “pivot.”

Perello- majority rules. This was the first night that three was a long, extensive dialogue of Council, members. Not contentious, exchange of ideas. We’re doing the best we can for city.

Vote to adopt – Unanimous 7-0

Adjournment 8:41 pm

____________________________

City Treasurer Phil Molina had this response to City Mgr.. Nguyen’s comments about him on Measure O:
—–Original Message—–
From: Phillip Sauton <[email protected]>
Sent: Tue, Mar 16, 2021 8:47 pm
Subject: Fwd: Last night council’s meeting on chart of accounts.

New Chart of Accounts agenda item:
 
Mr. Nguyen is partially correct when he said I criticized that Measure O was not included in the General Fund, Fund balance when he fired city staff on the basis there wasn’t enough cash in the general fund. At that time he excluded the millions of dollars of Measure O money from the general fund, fund balance in order to get the number he wanted.  That was and remains wrong. The CAFR now adds the Measure O money into the Oxnard General Fund where it belongs.
 
I already informed the CFO and Assistant CFO that not only do I agree with the new chart of accounts, because it conforms to GASB, but similarly to what I found in 1997 the city staff has been allowed and supported by the city manager to violated GASB and create now over 300 funds, according to Donna, and back in 1997 there was 197 funds.
 
Like in 1997 the first duty is to eliminate the false segregation of money into funds that have no legal authority to be a separate fund. I reduced that number from 197 to the proper defined funds in 1998.
 
So, my position has not changed since I became a CPA, over 40 years ago, and concentrated in government accounting, and for that reason as the Mayor and Council know I supported in 1997 the same position I support today in terms of setting up the chart of accounts.
 
I hope that Donna, the Assistant CFO, has more staff support than I received when the Interim City Manager, Priscilla Hernandez, informed me  that the Mayor and Council approved transferring the cash out of the nonfunds back into the General Fund, Enterprise Fund, Special Revenue Fund, Capital Projected Funds, Debt Service funds and Trust Funds. 
 
Since the Mayor, Bert, and all the other council members received my emails days earlier supporting the chart of accounts being proposed, I thought one of them would have the integrity and courage to correct the city manager when he tried to make it out as though I was apposed to the change or that I was inconsistent in my professional approach to handling Oxnard’s government accounting policies.
 
As Donna explained following GASB does not preclude providing separate accounting for expenditures using Measure E money.
 
Respectfully,
Phillip Molina
Oxnard City Treasurer
__________________________
… and here is Doug Partello’s response to Councilman Bert Perello’s comments about him (we asked Perello for clarification too and will publish it when received:

Employee “Givebacks” Who is lying Bert?

I called Mr. Bert Perello, District 1 Councilman, six days ago, to see if he would again ask City Council  to make the LMD audit report an agenda item on a future City Council Meeting, to disclose the audit to the public, as he did at the 01/30/2018 City Council Meeting. He promised me he would.

In our conversation, the topic of City employee “givebacks” came up. He praised Alex Nguyen for the $25,000 “giveback” in compensation, in response to the COVID recession. I took the position that the City employees only made a deferment of compensation, and not actual givebacks, per se.

At the City Council Meeting tonight, I spoke on non-agenda items, on the topic of LMDs, and the ReNew Oxnard Program.

Later in the meeting, Mr. Perello brought up my name, and our conversation about the givebacks, unrelated to the topic I spoke about, and in so many words, called me a liar.  This was not the first  time Mr. Perello has done this, which is extremely unfortunate. I stood by my facts and statements then, and do so now, with this letter from Mr. Alex Nguyen.

Below is a copy of an email that Nr. Nguyenb sent to all city employees about the possibility od receiving some COVID relief funds from the federal government. Notice especially this paragraph which confirms that what I said to Mr. Perelllo was true:

“Third, recall that the City, when asking for employee give-backs during the height of the pandemic and the depth of the recession, agreed that those give-backs would be returned to employees should a federal stimulus bill provide the opportunity to do so.”

So, by Alex Nguyen’s own words, everyone can see that I was in fact factually correct, that the givebacks would be returned to employees. Alex Nguyen is an employee of the City of Oxnard, and this language that Mr. Nguyenb himself wrote would apply to him as well as to others.  It was stated at an earlier time, also, by Mr. Nguyen, that the givebacks would indeed be returned, should state and/or federal relief be obtained by the City of Oxnard. Mr. Nguyen stood by his commitment to the employees, who were willing to take deferments at a critical time in our fiscal history, which is commendable.

What is less than commendable is an elected official calling a constituent, a citizen of Oxnard, in good standing, a liar at City Council Meeting because our memories of a past situation were different. He made this accusation, for the world to question my integrity, and honor, not knowing the person of character and integrity that I am. This is a repeated offense. It is my belief that this was done to discredit my statements on the topic of LMD audit report, and other topics in which we have disagreed.

Beyond calling me a liar, Mr. Perello didn’t even tell the public what he was talking about. He merely claimed rhat in a private conversation I made some vague, horrible, personal accusation against the City Manager. The public was left to assume the worst, with no way to determine whether or not I was guilty of the accusation. Remembering things differently doesn’t make one of us a liar, worthy of the personal attack I received. And the City Manager’s own written words substantiate that my memory was actually correct about the topic in dispute.

Now, Mr. Perello did not live up to the promise made in our phone conversation, to my satisfaction. I fortunately had another item on the agenda to speak, and clarify my request to him, and to City Council. I would certainly not accuse him of lying, when he told me he would request that the audit be released to the public, but then instead only asked that the City Attorney release the LMD audit report to City Council, to get them up to speed. (Four of the current Council members were not on Council when he requested that audit be made public at the 1/30/18 City Council Meeting, along with Oscar Madrigal. That was voted down, 2-3, and the audit remained confidential. Everyone can see that conversation starting at the 2:42;52 time stamp of that 1/30/18 meeting, and in the following 15 minutes or so

Tonight Mr. Perello may have thought he was just sparring with a political opponent. I cannot suggest to know what is in another person’s mind when they take such a misstep as this. But, what he may not realize is that when he attempts to besmirch my reputation and character in a public forum, he is also doing that to my wife, my son, and entire family. The name Partello means something to us. It Is a good name, and we carry it with honor, and pride.

I hope Mr. Perello learns a valuable lesson fromall of this, and moves forward to represent our City in the way in which we should expect of a person in high position in our local government.

BELOW IS MR. NGUYEN’S EMAIL I QUOTED ABOVE – – SEE FOR YOURSELF – – – –

Dear All:

From: Nguyen, Alexander <[email protected]>

Date: Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 9:42 AM

Subject: Message from City Manager RE: new federal stimulus

To: All Oxnard <[email protected]>

Yesterday Congress finally passed the American Rescue Plan Act (Act), a federal relief bill that includes direct and flexible funds to local governments for costs incurred during the pandemic, up until the end of 2024. It is on its way to the President’s desk for him to sign into law. It is expected to be implemented 60 days after that, and the funding is expected to be disbursed in two equal tranches, 12 months apart.

The first thing I want to state about this funding is that the City Council will make the decisions on how the funds will be appropriated, not the administration.

Second, I will recommend to the Council not to use this one-time funding for ongoing, recurring, annual expenditures.

Third, recall that the City, when asking for employee give-backs during the height of the pandemic and the depth of the recession, agreed that those give-backs would be returned to employees should a federal stimulus bill provide the opportunity to do so.

We will have more details after the final regulations are published. What we know now is there are four main categories that a state, county, or city receiving a payment under the Act can allocate funds to:

  1. A) to respond to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
  2. B) to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers of the metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work;
  3. C) for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue of such metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year of the metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county prior to the emergency; or
  4. D) to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

The City of Oxnard is expected to be eligible for up to $64 million in federal funding under the terms of the plan. I know this sounds like a big number, and in some ways it is but in the big picture, especially over even a short period of time, it’s not going to solve every issue facing the City given the guidelines for what Congress intended for its use.

According to the legislation, these funds are intended to build back the community by recovering the costs and expenses the City incurred in response to COVID-19 and lost sales tax and hotel tax revenue caused by the pandemic. Lost revenues to the City include forgone payments for City fees, the elimination of parking tickets, delayed or missed payments on City utilities, as well as late fees normally applied. The federal relief bill intends to address these issues and also outlines uses for necessary investments for water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.  Of note, the bill explicitly states that funds are not to be used for directly or indirectly offsetting a tax cut or pensions.

As we learn more about the requirements and the receipt of these funds, we will share the information. Overall, this is great news.

Sincerely,

Alex

Alexander Nguyen

City Manager

 


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

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Ray Blattel

Relative to the process of defining the candidate choices for the 5-year priorities, I don’t know how much good it would do to vote on 5 or 6 priority items which were developed by Council Committees and staff which may or may not be sometimes “self-serving”.
What should have been done is hire a consultant to probe the public at large to determine what the citizenship would really like to see for the city’s future. This process could have been executed in the same manner that the Parks and Recreation Master Plan was developed – that is – via a series of community engagement activities such as an advisory committee (not current members of the Council committees but members from the public from each of the six districts), focus groups, scientific and open surveys, and workshops. In this manner, the city leadership would have a sense of what the citizens really want vice choosing between a pre-selected list of options which were developed by city staff. Here’s your two choices: apple or orange. However, what I really wanted was a strawberry. How’s that for controlling what you get?

Gloria Postel

I look forward to the summarization of the city council meetings for the same reason mentioned… time and accuracy. Thank you.

Lauraine R Effress

Why did whoever wrote this article decide to summarize everything at the meeting, when one can still watch it on TV or on YouTube? It was almost impossible to follow, had multiple misspellings and is pretty much chaos, not unlike some of the meetings.

VCSurfer

I had no trouble at all following it. It is very clear and concise. I read it so I wouldn’t have to sit through hours of boring meetings. I found three misspellings in section K-1, wrote CJ an email and was told thanks it would be fixed. The only thing I didn’t like is that there was no summary of the prerecorded presentations.

Steve

I appreciate your summary. It is helpful.

Dotty Pringle

I too found this article easy to follow. Thank you for the information and appreciate the positive input. I believe Effress is use to her Nextdoor antics of misinformation and not journalism.
Yes, would have been nice to have a summary.

Last edited 5 months ago by Dotty Pringle