Santa Paula Council: Crime, Finance, Wastewater, Energy

By Sheryl Hamlin

The dense agenda of the August 19, 2020 Santa Paula City Council (via Zoom) included major presentations by the Santa Paula Police, the Finance Department and Public Works.

Santa Paula Police Department Presentation

Commander Varner gave the quarterly report (April 1 through July 30, 2020) for the SPPD. Commander Varner is one of the two commanders in the new reorganization which essentially splits the SPPD into two divisions. Notable statistics are given below:

Source: Staff Presentation

Part 1 crimes include the following according to SPPD: Part 1 crimes consist of 8 offenses: Criminal Homicide, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny-Theft, Motor Vehicle theft and Arson. The below map gives a general location of occurrence.

Also during the quarter SPPD Swat served six high risk search warrants where suspects were considered armed and dangerous.

Although the Santa Paula Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful, other cities requested mutual aid. These cities included San Francisco, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Simi Valley, Beverly Hills.

Santa Paula Finance: Quarterly Operational Report and Bond Refinancing

The Finance Department continues with operational efficiencies for staff and cash management. For example, the department issued 84 Purchase Orders in the fourth quarter alone which was a 54% increase over the 3rd quarter. Why are Purchase Orders important? POs contribute to tight cash management so that funds are not spent without being tied to a line item in a budget.

The department continues to fine tune the water billing and updated the winter consumption average for use in the water billing, shifted to on-line credit card payments which reduces staff time and time to collect money (as opposed to checks or on-line checks from bill pay systems), completed the CFD bond issuance for East Area 1, readying the FY 18-19 audit and starting the FY 19-20 close for the audit and started analysis for wastewater bond refinance (see report) which included the selection of the bond refinance team (NHA and Jones Hall). And yes, there will be dog licenses soon.

Waste Water Plant Bond Refinance

From the staff report, the possibility of refinancing is describe as follows:

The City of Santa Paula has three Wastewater Enterprise bonds outstanding. It originally issued $5,900,000 2010A Bonds, $6,130,000 2010B Taxable Bonds, and $67,195,000 2015A Bonds. On a combined basis, there is $74,550,000 of debt currently outstanding. Market interest rates are currently near all-time lows, which provides an opportunity to refund (refinance) the outstanding Prior Bonds to generate a debt service savings over their remaining term.

Three options for refinancing are shown below:

Option 1 is the most conservative. The current timeline of the bonds and principle is maintained but are reissued with a lower interest rate, which provides annual savings of $730,000. Option 2 extends the current timeline of the bonds, but maintains the outstanding principle. The savings could be $11 million over 5 years or $700,000 through 2050. Option 3 maintains the current debt service, but pulls more money from the market, assuming a lower interest rate for the current and new money. It is estimated that the new money might be $15.7 million.

During the discussion, it was brought up that the Veolia maintenance contract is about $1 million a year and the proposed Reverse Osmosis system (RO), which is required to reduce the chlorides from the wastewater, could cost $750,000 to $1.3 million annually to operate. Council Member Crosswhite noted that had the plant been built properly initially, this discussion would have been easier. Also was a letter submitted during Public Comments by the Malzacher family who is suing the city because the wastewater chlorides ruined their farm. Read that letter here:
Malzacher Letter.

Public Works: Street Lights and Energy Savings

In conjunction with Southern California Edison, whose representative participated in the discussion via Zoom, it is proposed to replace the existing 1343 SCE owned and maintained streetlights with LED lights with no out-of-pocket costs to the city. During the 20 year period during which SCE recoups the upgrade costs, it is estimated the city of Santa Paula will save $11,074 annually and thereafter a savings of $36,278 per year.

Note: the city must confirm that any historic lighting is not affected.

Other items: Harding Park Caretaker Agreement, Approved Vendor list, Gas Powered Equipment and Final Reading of Fireworks Ordinance

Previously Santa Paula benefitted from the services of a long time caretaker for the Harding Park. The caretaker position and house have been vacant for a while. It is now desired to renovate the house and advertise for a new caretaker, whose presence also provides security for the property. This item was approved.

The Approved Vendor list allows city departments needing consultants to chose from the list of approved vendors rather than issue the Request for Vendor information on each project. It is estimated that this will shorten project time. The concern raised by council was the transparency in the list. Finance Director suggested a quarterly report be issued. This item was approed.

The final reading of the Fireworks Ordinance was approved with fines ranging from $500 to $1000.00

The Park and Rec department requested and was granted authority to pursue a grant which will fund elimination of gas powered park equipment.

To watch the video, click here: Video

To download the reports, click here:
Staff Reports

To learn more about the author, click sherylhamlin dot com

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Gayle Washburn

Now it’s every couple of years. Windfall for the bond company affiliates.

“We find that municipalities in the most corrupt states destroy the most value by advance refunding.”