Suggestions to fix Oxnard’s sinking budget

By Steve Nash

On the City of Oxnard’s budget problems just looking at the areas of shortfall as listed on page 4 of 15 of last night’s staff report Financial_Forecast_pdf_7.78_MB I would offer these following suggestions:

SinkingShipPlugHoles

Assessment Districts (AD): I live in an AD and I am not getting the level of service I should expect and yet my district has allegedly been over-spending its budget. My current property tax bill shows, under the special assessment designation Ox. Dist. #3-River Ridge, an amount of $162.86 for the tax year 2014-15. The total amount for District #3 for tax year 2013-14 is $83,872.90, with a total parcel count of 515. Special Assessment Billing

The City should not be in the mow and blow business because its cost of labor is way too high. The solution? Eliminate staff responsible for providing the services and put it out to bid. But don’t just lay off the employees doing the physical labor, lay off their supervisors as well. Perform similar actions across all landscape assessment districts.

Impact Fees: raise the fees as the surrounding cities have done until the fees pay for the services our City provides. Do this quickly before the City approves and entitles any further development. To pay off the impact fee debt, add a temporary percentage surcharge to all future impact fees until the debt is retired.

PACC/Golf Course: I combined these two because of their similarity and the Council’s inability to reach a consensus on how to deal with their on-going debt. The solution? Place a referendum on the next election ballot asking the residents if they are willing to continue subsidizing these amenities or do they want them sold. This should allow both the current golf course operator and the new PACC director enough time to show bottom-line improvement of their respective facilities.

Internal Service: this is solved by following proper accounting procedures and never should have happened in the first place.

The Carman Override: the public safety unions have to step up big time and shift costs to their members. The public is through getting soaked for these egregiously bloated pensions. Visit Transparent California, http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/oxnard/, and look at the salaries of our police and fire. These will give some approximate idea as to the City’s obligation on future pensions. We simply cannot afford this. We have to step back from the fiscal precipice these salaries and pensions have brought us to.

Several speakers last night bemoaned the lack of solutions from either the Council members or the City Manager. I agree. I offer several modest proposals here. Ultimately our elected officials need to be more proactive and not always defer to staff or the public. Our City Manager needs to start the difficult process of cutting personnel. There is no other solution to such a massive structural deficit as the City currently has.

Finally, it is ridiculous that certain individuals in both the elected class and the city staff class responsible for this horrific mismanagement of the fiduciary public weal get off scot-free while the residents will be asked to make everything whole with reduced services, very likely increased crime rates, increased response times from both police and fire personnel, increased fees, increased utility rates and an overall greatly diminished quality of civic life. Whatever happened to accountability?

Last night’s Meeting can be viewed here: http://oxnard.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=46&clip_id=3049&meta_id=149627

Prior Citizens Journal articles on the Oxnard Budget Crisis: Here and Here

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Steve Nash

Steve Nash

Steve Nash is a Planning Commissioner in the city of Oxnard.  He holds a B.A. in  Environmental Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara

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2 Responses to Suggestions to fix Oxnard’s sinking budget

  1. Steven Nash May 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    The figure listed on page 4 of the staff report for Monday’s Special Meeting of the City Council shows the General Fund shortfall for the current fiscal year of 2014-15 is $13.6 million.

    If we eliminate Library Services, Neighborhood Services, the PACC, Recreation, the City Clerk’s Office, the City Council and the City Attorney’s Office we get to a budgeted total of $13,604,608 (these figure were taken directly from the City’s Socrata financial platform).

    Residents had better be ready for a very rude awakening.

    Reply
  2. Citizen Reporter May 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Some specific, practical ideas from Oxnard resident Steve Nash, who is also a Planning Commissioner. (He does not speak for the City here).

    Reply

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