Santa Paula: Fire, Schools and Enterprise Funds

By Sheryl Hamlin

More Details Emerge about Annexation to Ventura County Fire District

In an oral presentation, Chief Araiza informed the council of the following:

  • LAFCO requires large fees for the annexation which the county will pay, unless the annexation does not go to fruition.
  • By the April 3rd meeting, he will present more details on the unfunded retirement liabilities as well as the potential changes in fees paid for development under VCFD. Note that because Limoneira already has an executed Development Agreement (DA) specifying fees, the VCFD annexation will not change those fees.
  • He and the VCFD Chief met with Limoneira to discuss road configuration in EA1, which appear to be acceptable to VCFD at this point in time.
  • He said that they have agreed that the city would lease its existing fire facilities to VCFD until the new facilities were built at either end of town. Station 81 on 10th Street is conveniently located. VCFD is not yet committed to adding the paramedic service, but it is on the table for the future. Station 82 could be combined with the Community Center.


No Retirement for Chief Araiza

Council Member Hernandez asked Chief Araiza if he were “represented” in the annexation process, to which Chief Araiza responded negatively, saying that originally he thought he would just retire, but now he has reconsidered and would like to be involved with VCFD to which Council Member Hernandez responded that help in this matter would be forthcoming. City Manager Fontes said there was a firewall so as not to compromise Chief Araiza.

The Mysterious 80%

There was discussion among the council members and the Chief about the 80% number used by the VCSTAR. The Chief said that this was correct. The Chief said that for every $1.00 the city gets 20 cents because of the others like the School District, United Water, Ventura College, MUPU, ERAF. Blanchard Library, etc.

On January 17, 2017, Director Easley presented the spreadsheet entitled “Fire Analysis” which was reported here.

Note the yellow line in the spreadsheet below from Director Easley’s report labeled “Fire Amount would have been”. Above that is the line labeled “Received”. For FY15/16 ‘actuals’ the percentage of the yellow line of the “received” line is 78.9%, for FY 16/17 the percentage is 78.9% and for FY 17/18 the percentage is 78.9%, which is very close to 80%.

The Mysterious 16.5%

Council Member Procter asked about the 16.5%. He felt unsure about how that was used and wanted to reconfirm how this was calculated..

Mayor Crosswhite asked to clarify if the 16.5% were of the $1.0. They concluded that it is about 21 cents of each dollar the city would keep of its property tax.

How the VCFD Payment is Actually Calculated

The county produces every year a TRA (Tax Rate Assessment) report. This report shows the current year’s assessed value of all real properties and last year’s assessed value of all real properties. The county then calculates a “differential” which is the difference in the assessed value of this year minus last year. The differential is then multiplied by 16.5%. That value is added to the total payment of the preceding year. This process is repeated year after year. Generally, the increment is positive unless there is a financial crisis and the assessed values decrease. Read this report, where 10 years of Ojai’s TRA reports were studied and the calculation applied.

What is necessary is the starting value. Originally Chief Araiza said this would be negotiated. If the city starts on Septemer 1, 2017, this would mean that one quarter of FY 17/18 had passed, leaving three quarters of the fiscal year. This starting number is essential because ALL FUTURE INCREMENTS are added to this starting number.

School District Scope Change Brings Sharing Agreement with EA1 Park

The School District originally planned for an elementary school (K-6) in EA1. This elementary school was discussed during the recent bond election, but with the passage of the bond, SPUSD decided to increase the size of the EA1 school. But the 10.8 acres allotted to them from Limoneira is not enough for a K-8 school per the State of California, so the SPUSD is asking for another 4 acres from the 40 acre park in a “shared” agreement.

The proposed shared use agreement calls for the City to continue maintenance of the shared four acres with SPUSD paying for any cleanup. SPUSD will use the shared acreage several times a year and pay to put it back in the condition it received the property. Attorney Cotti said that the use will not be daily. This sleight-of-hand will allow the application to go forward with the State Department of Education.

Council Member Hernandez objected to the maintenance agreement. The agreement passed 4-1 with Council Member Hernandez opposing.

Standing Committee to Address Water and Sewer Rates

Mayor Crosswhite and Council Member Hernandez were selected to be the members of this new committee, which according to Attorney Cotti, will be noticed and open to the public. It was designed in response for more transparency about the Enterprise Funds.

To watch the meeting or download the packet, click here.

For more information about author, click sheryl hamlin dot com

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3 Responses to Santa Paula: Fire, Schools and Enterprise Funds

  1. Sheryl Hamlin March 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    In a traditional business model, the economies of scale as mentioned by Johnny Wells would apply, but in organizations which participate in CalSTRS and CalPERS, defined benefit programs, there is a structural imbalance because the increases in those defined benefit programs exceed available revenues, which means that larger simply generates more losses. Secondly, California’s growth rate is diminishing. Many school districts are reporting drops in population. SPUSD originally had a high school, then due to their forecasts dropped to K-6 in EA1. This was stated at the public meeting for the bond, so where is the justification for the increase to a K-8?

  2. Johnny Wells March 22, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Larger school means more students, which translates to more revenue to school. Conversely, a new school requires less maintenance costs and likely lower utility bills due to modern and energy efficient, etc…

  3. Sheryl Hamlin March 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

    SPUSD projects a $1.3 million shortfall primarily due to PERS…pensions for classified employees … and they want a bigger school?


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