By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- The Finance & Governance Committee, Sept 8, reviewed and offered feedback about the council's annual calendar of routine items they can expect during the year.
The discussion generated a lot of talk about what items should be vetted at the committee level, while other items go straight to the council.
Generally speaking, city departments agendize various items as needed every year. Staff is still in the process of inventorying these routine items, so sharing the calendar is the first step.
Deputy City Manager Shiri Klima presented the item to the committee and said the intent was to show what their year would look like for many years because they are repeat items.
"The goal is to allow you, as members of the council, along with members of the public, to preview the year and understand when things are going to be coming your way," she said. "Today's goal is for you to be able to balance out this agenda and see if things make sense."
Some items on this calendar can move, she said, because they're flexible.
"There are other items for legal or sequencing reasons that can't move," she said. "We'll be able to let you know that if you have requests to move items. What we need from you is feedback on this. These are routine items that repeat quarterly, semi-annually, annually or every couple of years."
She didn't read every item but noted that Sept is a light month with only eight items.
"We've got them separated into three categories," she said.
The Measure O annual update topped Sept, followed by refreshing the financial policies under the internal control integrated framework, which happens every four years. The Consolidated Annual Performance & Evaluation report and Local Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant are annual items that require reports.
Other items, like the PACC (Performing Arts and Convention Center) update, Consitution Week, National Child Passenger Safety Week, and Coastal Cleanup Day, are informational or ceremonial.
"These are not synonymous with information consent items, versus reports," Klima said. "With the report items, the council will need to be much more involved in providing feedback and action. These are the repeated items on your agendas."
The council has another light month in Oct., she said, with four items requiring action and two ceremonial items and two informational items.
"This year, there is going to be a ceremonial item that happens in Oct as well," she said. "It's typically done in Nov, so we listed it in Nov. We have seven ceremonial items in Oct."
In Nov, there will be nine items, Klima said, including five that require action by the council, one informational item, and three ceremonial items.
Committee Member Bert Perello asked about the executive resolution item scheduled in Nov.
"The executive resolution is the resolution for the department heads and the city management team," Klima said. "It also has other employees, such as the attorneys and city attorney's office. This resolution, since these folks are not covered by an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) this resolution details their benefits."
The council will tackle eight action items in Dec, along with one informational item and two ceremonial items.
Things get busy in Jan with 12 items, but three of those items happen only once every five years.
"In Feb. there are five items with two ceremonial items, so it will be a pretty light month," she said. "In March, we start to really pick up. We have nine items where action is required, one informational item, and three ceremonial items."
Perello asked about the banking contract on the calendar in March.
"The treasurer has asked to pass something in the past about credit cards, and having the opportunity to void extra payments we are paying to the credit card firms," he asked. "He's claiming that there is something that can be done. Will that be included in this item?"
Klima said it's not an annual item, but it's coming to the council soon.
"The billing and licensing department director, Eden Alomeri, is working that out where the fees for paying with a credit card will be passed on to the users," Klima said.
City Attorney Stephen Fischer said it's not a periodic item.
"We'll have to get back to you on that one," he said.
In April, Klima said there are nine action items, one informational item, and seven ceremonial items.
The year continues with 11 action items, four informational items, and five ceremonial items in May and six action items and four ceremonial items in June.
"June is a busy month because of the budget," she said. "It's only listed once, and it looks like a shortlist, it is busy in the amount of time that it takes up on your calenders."
We have a pretty hearty list in July," she said. "We listed Aug, but the council is dark."
Committee Chairman, Mayor Tim Flynn, called it a good thing to preview the annual calendar schedule.
"It makes it difficult in this framework to get into specifics about the calendar," he said.
Committee Member Vianey Lopez asked if there is any way to determine if the item needs to pass through a committee and how much time it will need at a council meeting.
"Can we identify any of those differences," she said. "That will help balance the items and make sure they're evenly spread out, so we can give them the appropriate attention that is needed."
Klima called that great feedback.
"We planned on creating calendars that take these items, put them a month ahead of time, the ones that do need to go to committees, so we can prepare that for the next time this comes back to Finance & Governance so that we can add times to these, so you can get a sense of how long each staff item will take," she said.
Perello said the calendar is an improvement, especially for new members.
"I would hope there will be a hard copy given at the beginning of each year," he said. "That way, nobody can say they didn't tell me. That's me included."
He asked when there will be updates about the levees with the Santa Clara River.
"The Santa Clara levee issue below the freeway as it goes downstream is very active," he said. "There's a lot of work going on with the county and the city. SCR1, putting Riverpark at tremendous risk for going into a flood zone, depends on what happens at the federal government level with FEMA. There are a lot of residents, businesses, and a good portion of the city's resources in that area. We need to have a consistent update about what is going on. Most recently, we have residents raising cain. They see the golf course packed with cars. They want to know why we are paying for maintenance, and why are we paying for all these expenses, while we are gifting public monies."
He wants consistent updates, including the golf course.
Flynn added that the committee system means better public policymaking.
"Any type of organization has to provide the best opportunities for decision making," he said. "I would give the first year of the committee system a B- grade."
He added to Lopez's comment about what goes to the council and what goes to the committee.
"Miss Klima has laid out the structure of what the city needs to do," he said. "We know that ceremonial items don't need to come to the committee. We know that some informational items need to come to the committee."
"Some of the required items we make decisions on, they need to come to the committee," he continued. "What I've said to the city manager, what makes sense about the committee system is this. It doesn't make sense to have an elaborate presentation at the committee level, and then turn around and give that same presentation at the council level. One of the reasons why we got into the committee system is to get into the details. It's filmed so that the public can play it on their televisions so they can interact and get into the details. We don't want to rehash those same details at the council meeting."
Fischer interjected that it would be discussed in detail at a later meeting.
Flynn also brought up the budget cycle.
"It's been my contention that the most important role a city council can play is about making decisions, as a legislative body, about how money gets spent," he said. "That will come into question by the voters if the city treasurer is allowed to be the finance director and the city treasurer as an elected official. The legislative body is slated with making these financial decisions. The city council doesn't make decisions about the budget. The staff makes those decisions with feedback by the council. The staff vets them. Then a final product gets submitted to the council. There needs to be a more robust structure about council participation in the budget process."
This item will return to the Finance & Governance Committee with moe items on the routine calendar, and Klima said they'll add the committee calendars.
"Many of these items will need to go to the committee first," she said. "We'll also add the times, pursuant to your request."