Santa Paula City Council committees finalized

January 10, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

The long list of  Mayor Standing Committees were finalized at Monday’s City Council meeting, including a shift in representation on the Ventura Regional Sanitation District’s Board of Directors.

With Mayor Rick Cook appointing himself to the VRSD panel he replaced Councilman Bob Gonzales who served the VRSD since he was first elected to city office in 2006.

There was little discussion over the assignments, traditionally the first official act of the newly seated mayor.

The council sits on various committees and commissions for local, county and state groups and agencies that are involved in everything from local schools and county economic development to the state organization of cities.

During the discussion Gonzales noted that with the Santa Paula Elementary and High School districts now merged into the voter mandated Santa Paula Unified School District two committees could also become a single entity.

Being subjected to possible elimination is the Ventura Community College/Joint Powers Agreement Committee that oversaw the spending of city “pass-thru” Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funding; with the state dissolving such agencies, Gonzales noted the committee might no longer be viable.

City Manager Jaime Fontes said although he believes the committee could also be dissolved he would report back on its status.

There was no comment about the shift in the VRSD board either from Cook, who had served as the alternate, or Gonzales.

The board of the agency, which oversees the Toland Road Landfill located halfway between Santa Paula and Fillmore, is not directly elected to the panel but rather are appointed by individual participating city councils and special districts.

It will not be the first time that Cook, who first served on the City Council from 1998 to 2006 and was reelected in 2010, will be a full member of the agency’s board of directors: he was appointed to the VRSD in 2003 and served one term as the VRSD chairman during his tenure, which ended when he left the council. 

Although since his 2010 reelection to the council Cook had requested several times that he be appointed to the VRSD citing his prior experience and availability-he is retired from the Santa Paula Police Department and the County of   Ventura and works as a Realtor-his overtures were rebuffed.

VRSD has a contract with the city-and at one time leased city owned equipment-for sewer line maintenance related operations that ends in April.

Most of the listed committees and commissions Santa Paula council members serve on are without compensation, but one exception is the Ventura Regional Sanitation District board whose members are among the highest compensated in the county at about $200 a meeting. The agency has two full board meetings a month and several subcommittees that also meet.

The agency, which operates a sludge heat processing operation at the landfill, showed in its 2013 budget summary that more than $100,000 was allocated to cover fees and expenses for its nine-member board for that fiscal year. 

The VRSD was the only change in appointments for the coming year.

Appointed were: Santa Paula Unified School District, members Ralph Fernandez and Gonzales; Vice Mayor Jim Tovias is the liaison to the Economic Development Advisory Committee; Cook is the member and Tovias the alternate liaison to Recreation Commission; Fish Ladder Authority member is Councilman Martin Hernandez; Santa Paula Basin Pumpers’ Association will be represented by Cook with Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez and Cook is the member and Fernandez the alternate to the Ventura County Energy Alliance.

Tovias, an insurance agency owner, was appointed as the liaison to the Economic Development Advisory Committee and to the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority; City Manager Jaime Fontes is the alternate. The authority pays members $100 a session plus expenses.

County standing committees will have Hernandez representing the city on the Animal Regulations Commission, which compensates members $50 a meeting. The Association of Ventura County Cities (City Selection Committee) always has the presiding mayor and vice mayor as member and alternate respectively. Tovias is the member and Gonzales the alternate for the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County. 

Hernandez will serve as the member of the Santa Clara Valley Neighborhoods for Learning and Tovias is the member and Cook the alternate to the Ventura Council of Governments (VCOG).

Hernandez will serve the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District Advisory Committee and Tovias is the alternate.

Fernandez remains the member and   Tovias the alternate to the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) VISTA Committee that oversees public transit service on Highway 126. Fernandez remains the member-and is now chairman-of VCTC, which such as VRSD pays members compensation for meetings and other expenses including conferences.

There is only one state standing committee, and the presiding mayor and city manager are joint action members of the California League of Cities Liaison for State Senator and Assemblymember.

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