Santa Paula: Measure T to the Rescue

By Sheryl Hamlin

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Year Ending in Deficit

“…it was anticipated there would be a shortfall in total year end expenditures over revenues for the General Fund of approximately $232,155”, according to the staff report given to the public.

Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Budget Deficit

The Santa Paula City Council got a first look at the FY 17-18 budget at the May 1, 2017 meeting. Based on departmental requests (no salary increases), the FY 17-18 deficit could be $1,739,312, as shown in the chart below taken from a presentation distributed at the meeting (not in public packet):

Source: Sandra Easley Presentation distributed at meeting

Measure T to the Rescue

Interim City Manager Araiza said in response to the question about the “next steps” that there would be workshops and meetings with the Measure T Oversight Committee to “whittle down” the $1.7 million loss. The committee would prioritize and recommend how to spend the $2.1 million expected from Measure T.

Attorney Cotti confirmed that the Measure T Oversight Committee would be part of the budget process.

According to Director Easley, the presented budget included expenses for the Fire Department, but no Measure T funds and no salary assumptions. She also said that the budget included $177,000 revenue from the new gas tax just signed by Governor Brown. The city had been expecting much more. The budget also included $718,855 in increases from the liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and retirement benefits.

Vice Mayor Gherardi said that there must be a priority setting meeting. She also suggested a meeting to discuss how the Measure T Oversight Committee would interact with council.

Click here to learn the members of the Measure T Oversight Committee.

How would County Fire Annexation Affect Budget?

Previously in the meeting the council voted 4-1 to proceed with the annexation in spite of incomplete financial information, specifically the spike(s) which will occur with blocks of new homes and the final closure of the Redevelopment Agency resulting in more property tax to the city. To watch why Mayor Crosswhite voted ‘no’ click here

Vice Mayor Gherardi summarized a two page report of reasons to support the annexation based on her research. She cited salary parity with other fire departments as impossible to meet, $2 million in new equipment and station improvements necessary to continue the SPFD, “mutual aid” bills the city could receive from help by other fire districts, reduction in the insurance and workers comp premiums of approximately $235,000 the first year, in addition to improved services in paramedic, search and rescue and potentially reduced costs for fire/homeowners insurance. She also expressed anger with the editorial in the Ventura County Star.

Interim City Manager Araiza, who negotiated the 16.5% rate with county fire, agreed that there should also be a presentation of the budget netting out the property tax losses and expense savings from the potential VCFPD annexation. Director Easley indicated this would be attempted.

Note that Mr. Araiza recused himself from the discussion of the county fire annexation, but not from the budget discussion even though there is a substantial fire annexation component to the analysis.

Other Council Actions

The council approved two members to the vacant seats on the Santa Paula Planning Commission:

Earl McPhail, former Agriculture Commissioner, and Margaux Bangs, new resident to Santa Paula and proprietor of the Yoga Casita on Mill Street. The former for a four year term, while the latter for two.

Click here to read and watch meeting.


For more information about the author visit Sheryl Hamlin dot com.

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