Robinson: Council service, dedication to SP described as second to none

November 28, 2012
Santa Paula City Council

Fred Robinson bid farewell with thanks to the City Council and the community for the support he received over the four years he served -including a term as Mayor - service and dedication to the city described by another councilman as “second to none.”

Robinson lost his bid for reelection to a second term on November 6 to first time candidate Martin Hernandez. 

On Monday Robinson thanked the council “for the privilege of working with you and the community,” as well as for the confidence they had in him. Council service, representing his hometown, Robinson added, was “like a dream come true.”

Members of the public as well as other councilmen had “expressed their condolences” when he was defeated, but Robinson said he has his own condolences to express as the council tackles future issues - particularly rising sewer costs. “That is probably the number one concern out there; more has to be done” to lessen rates that Robinson said are “hurting people.” Robinson said he agreed with a speaker who had earlier suggested a potential payback to ratepayers from the revenue of the proposed sale of the former wastewater treatment plant property.

With sewer surcharges imposed in November 2011, Santa Paula has the highest sewage rates in the county. The baseline for residents is $77.21 per month per household in addition to the 58-cent sewage surcharge for every 100 cubic feet - 748 gallons - of water consumed.

The council voted in October to postpone for six months the second phase of the surcharge that was to take effect November 1. That increase would have raised the surcharge to $1.12 per 100 cubic feet of water, almost doubling the rate. 

The city established an ad hoc committee to look into ways of lowering water and sewer rates, a move that later turned controversial over public noticing of meetings. Robinson objected strenuously to the council’s reversal on the meeting notices, noting his concerns of transparency. The ad hoc committee was supposed to conclude its study on various issues related to city utilities and report back to the council by November 17. 

At the November 19 meeting Robinson warned that a looming emergency is chloride discharges, a regional issue that the state soon might be imposing major fines on cities for non-compliance. Although the city has “an adequate basin,” Robinson said water would continue to draw attention, including supply and demand in the face of drought and court decisions. 

The council will still have to contend with the state budget and negative impacts to Santa Paula and other cities. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” and Robinson said the council must remember it wasn’t that long ago that the city faced a potential $1.8 million deficit. For now the economy is “stagnant,” even as city employees subjected to salary cuts are looking for their previous pay levels to be restored and the issue of public pension costs grows more urgent.

Robinson said he wrote a letter of thanks to the newspaper and mentioned several staff members he owed particular appreciation to. “God speed to Santa Paula,” he concluded.

Said Mayor Bob Gonzales, “You went beyond, what I think is far beyond what others did” when it came to representing Santa Paula. “I would rate you as one of the most visible, most articulate” representatives of the city, and Gonzales said it was “an honor to serve with you... I thank you for your service and dedication to the city; it’s second to none.”

Robinson will formally be bid farewell at the December 10 council meeting when Hernandez will be seated.

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