By Chris Frost
Oxnard—The conversation with Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen continues with the struggle the city has with revenue.
With the challenges facing the city about too much need and not enough money, Oxnard does not have a facilities maintenance reserve for all its physical assets.
“This is why I was freaked out about the PACC (Performing Arts and Convention Center),” he said. “We don’t have a fleet replacement reserve, and I know that recently we were able to purchase a couple of fire trucks, but we don’t a reserve. Even if you go to Enterprise, which we are leasing for our civilian types of cars, we still need the fund trust.”
The city also does not have reserve and investment funds for technology, which he described as full of bad practices.
“This is suicidal, in terms of the future,” he said. “We’re woefully behind in all of that, and it worries me for the long term in the future of this community. Those other missing funds worry me, that’s what we have to work on, and we need to rebuild ourselves. You want city hall to be high functioning, but you have to take steps to get there.”
When he first arrived in Oxnard a year ago, Nguyen said the organization was broken on many levels.
“When you look at the last four budgets, we need revenue, period,” he said. “This is a city that has been plagued with a lot of bad decisions and management choices, and admittedly, some weird things happened that the district attorney couldn’t or wouldn’t prosecute. Once you get past all that, this is not a frivolous city. We’re leaner than we should be, and we can’t squeeze anything more out of this.”
Nguyen said he’s only had a brief conversation with Radio Lazer, which expressed interest in teaming up with the city at the PACC.
“I told them that it’s great news, but we’re going to scope a Request for Proposals (RFP) in the early fall, and I hope they reply,” he said. “The PACC was in the hole for this fiscal year, and I had to do an emergency appropriation, $150,000, in addition to the money we used from Measure O to keep it open for the rest of the year. I stand by what I said about the PACC.”
Looking forward, Nguyen plans to bring the Housing First plan to the council by the end of the year, and although the city still has a lot of homework, the city needs to get started.
“This is why I was so protective of what we have left in Measure O until we can dislodge money from the state,” he said. “This crisis is becoming a fever pitch with the kinds of things people are saying now. The language and verbiage I’m receiving about the homeless is becoming heated and ugly and extreme. It’s a difficult balance to confront the crime that’s committed by some of the homeless, while the picture is painted about all the homeless. It’s a tough situation. We’ve reached the tipping point that other cities have surpassed, which is the inability to see the homeless as human beings anymore.”
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