Simi Valley Council Approves Budget at their June 6th 2016 meeting

By Debra Tash

The Simi Valley City Council voted 5 to 0 to adopt the 2016-17 budget along with the five year capital improvement budget. Staff_Report – Budget With property tax revenue up staff projected a 4.1% increase in the General Fund revenues for Simi Valley for a total of $65,319,600.

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Property Tax Revenue in Simi Valley

There are 87 projects in the five year plan, from building out facilities for recycling water, bike paths to the beautification and maintenance of streets and roads.  While transit showed a balanced budget, Sanitation and Waterworks did not.  Transit is supplemented by grant money, which Mayor Pro Tem Keith Mashburn remarked, “Grants, there’s no free money.”  This came up in the the discussing of the half cent sales tax that will be on the November ballot.  The grants propping up fare box returns are from tax dollars.  Public Transit has never been self sustaining.

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Simi Transit is balanced through Grant Money

Staffing at the city has gone down in recent years. Retirees are not being replaced and positions are being eliminated. There is an increase in the budget to update technology which will offset the diminished number of city employees.

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Budget Items to be Funded

In another item on the agenda, the Council voted on the re-purposing funds from a Federal earmark that have been carried forward since 2005.  Retired congressman Elton Gallegly had garnered the funds for the city during his tenure. Two million dollars will be used to upgrade and repair major streets in the city.  The list of proposed projects:

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The Council was also asked to give their approval of a measure for a half cent sales tax for transportation on the November ballot.  The proposal was crafted by the Ventura County Transportation Committee (VCTC).  VCTC Director Darren Kettle attended the council meeting.  The VCTC plan includes “$99 million that will be used to match Federal and State funds and includes funding for cycling and pedestrian projects, such as Class 1 dedicated bike and pedestrian trails, improved on street bike lanes, and signage on routes connecting communities and safe routes to schools. It will fund the expansion of bus services, connections, bus infrastructure and improvements to countywide services.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mashburn asked, “Will our gas taxes go down” if the measure is passed?  Increased sales tax will supplement gas revenues, not replace them.  Mashburn countered, “The answer to everything is to raise taxes.”

Mayor Bob Huber objected to the proposal at the June 6th meeting because,  “This wasn’t vetted with our neighborhood council.”

Kettle informed the Council that there is a July 8th deadline for the VCTC  to get the number of jurisdictions needed to approve the measure being on the November ballot.

Council Member Glen Becerra defended the proposal, saying that of the six counties comprising SCAG, the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional, not local governing body, Ventura was the only that has not raised sales taxes.   Becerra served as president of SCAG.

Council Member Steven Sojka pointed out that the tax equals one dollar per resident per week.  Mashburn countered, “What quality of life do our residents have if they can’t get in their cars.”

The Council voted to postpone the vote until Simi’s four Neighborhood Councils can meet together and approve the proposal.  The item will be revisited at the Council’s June 27th meeting.

The Council also voted on an urgency ordinance regarding massage parlors in the city.  There has been an increase in online sexual advertising for such establishments in the city.  The ordinance will allow inspectors to conduct unannounced visits to stem the rise of illegal activities.

Bruce Boyer, a local activist who has a Federal lawsuit pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, spoke at public comments and on Agenda 6A dealing which dealt with the approval of a water service standby surcharge.  Mr. Boyer is protesting 1257 Ordinance in Simi Valley.  It makes it illegal to have advertising on parked vehicles.  His vehicle was towed by the City because of this ordinance.

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Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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Bruce Boyer

Ther is a lot to speak out against people, show up! The City is progressing well along the path that takes away your liberty, one piece at a time..