Spotlight | CEO Mike Powers State of the County 2018

 

 

By Sheryl Hamlin

A sellout crowd exceeding 160 attended CEO Mike Powers “State of the County 2018”. Ron Golden, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association and VP/Ventura County Manager of Fidelity National Title, welcomed the audience and thanked the sponsors. The sponsors this year included three Chamber of Commerce groups, Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura, who jointly promoted the event.

Mr. Golden introduced David Grau, President of VCTA. He also introduced UCLA Health, the naming sponsor, whose representative congratulated the Ventura community on its “Ventura Strong” program, noble fire effort and ongoing recuperation, saying the thousands of non-profits in the county are to be thanked as well.

Mr Golden identified the elected officials in the audience: Supervisor Kelly Long, Supervisor Peter Foy, Harbor Commissioner Jess Herrera and Council Member Tony Trembley of Camarillo.

Shown here are CEO Powers with Drew Powers of Thousand Oaks and Diane McKay VCCD.

Mr. Golden noted among CEO Powers numerous accomplishments, that Powers earned a JD from Loyola in 1989 and was in private practice before entering government, where he now presides over a budget exceeding $2 billion with an employee count greater than 9000.

State of the County: 2018 Anything but Normal

Mr. Powers acknowledged the camaraderie in the room saying that everyone knows someone, calling it “VC Energy” or “two degrees of separation”. Transparent governance, he said, was a mission the Ventura County government shares with the Ventura County Taxpayers Association.

The Fire 911 Call

On December 4th around 6:30, 911 took a call about a “brush fire” no address, just a canyon. This became 281,893 acres, 1063 structures destroyed including 777 homes, 94,000 people evacuated, 350 firefighters, 2300 animals saved by VCAS, 8500 emergency personnel and two fatalities. He praised the courage of Chief Lorenzen to ask for all extra services based on an instinctive reaction as to the severity of the fire. The warning system got people to safety including many who received personal knocks at the door to evacuate.

The county created a Recovery Director reporting directly to the CEO. By day 23, permit fees were waived, community meetings throughout, 264,497 tons of debris removed and $500,000 in rental assistance obtained. The tax assessor jumped in with relief for property taxes.

In the longer term, watershed mitigation and protection plus $18 million in grant applications for rebuilding and recovery. Read the county fire summary document here.

The 2018/2019 Budget

In spite of fire related property tax revenue decreases and expenses due to the fire, the budget is balanced and up only slightly from FY 2017/2018 with $2.24 billion overall and $1.11 billion for the General fund, representing only .1% change from last year. He noted that the county complied with SB2030 and hired caseworkers accordingly to align caseloads to workers based on new parameters. There are $144 million in reserves, of which $52 million is assigned. Workers Compensation is 100% financed. With the improving economy, the Calworks assistance is down, CalFresh food stamps use is down, but Medical is up.

He praised the annexation of the Santa Paula Fire Department with the Ventura County Fire District. He said that three deputy sheriffs will be providing election monitoring services. Mental Health, Public Health and Animal services are an important part of the budget, as shown in the pie chart.

Summary of budget from Board of Supervisors meeting: click here.

Achievements and Highlights

Overhead is down with the Lean Six Sigma program yielding $33 million in savings to date. Assessed valuation of property has been stable with no big dips. The new VCMC hospital was completed under budget. The county is expecting $10.7 billion from SB1, if it is not repealed.

Ventura County prepays the CalPERS bill saving $7 million. With a 1.5% mean salary increase, 100% of employees are covered by MOU’s. Pension costs are declining using a 15 year amortization. 28% of employees are on PEPRA.

5000 in home support services are now required to be unionized. Note that CEO Powers was appointed by the Governor to be on a panel related to home health care.

Citing the overwhelming opposition to AB 1250, the defacto ban on contractors, the bill was defeated, he said.

VCMC, with a vast access to specialty networks, has increased net collections by $30 million due to improved patient accounting.

The State of California is helping with the new, 64 bed Todd Road Jail medical facility. The total price is $61 million. Aerial rendering shows planned expansion in agrarian setting.

Other Notable Achievements

-The new, highly automated library on Hill Street
-New fire stations in Fillmore, Ojai and Newbury Park
-Da Vinci Robot at VCMC provided 30 surgeries previously impossible ($2.5 million)
-Casa Sierra and Lobster Tray will become a new hotel and restaurant at the wharf
-Homeless shelter and juvenile justice facility improvements
-Healthcare in Santa Paula “Under One Roof”
-60,000 to 70,000 visits annually to county medical clinics
-Pediatric intensive care reopening in the fall

Public Works, Public Safety, Homeless Services and Aging

The county has 552 miles of roads, the largest no kill shelter in the state and six cities have one stop centers for homeless. HPRP (Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing) is budgeted $360,000 from the General Fund. Homelessness increased 12.8% and unsheltered up 24%.

A successful pilot of Whole Person Care has reduced Emergency Room visits. By focusing on high users of health systems and services, these high risk users can be serviced outside of ER. There is a focus on the opioid crisis.

While recidivism rate has increased, juvenile arrests are down due to work with the Boys & Girls Clubs. With the county’s population aging, Homeshare reports 339 seniors taking advantage of this program. The General Plan 2040 will include a new economic development component. The county joined open.gov, which includes an advanced board agenda. The county has eleven water agencies in SGMA (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act).

Ventura County has been ranked fourth highest digital county in the nation with its mobile work force, sevices on-line and data analytics. Ventura County has an independent medical examiner, one of 5 in the state, which includes medical forensics.

The Economic Vitality Plan was approved including: high density and non-traditional housing, workforce readiness, foster startup culture in information technology, Healthcare and agriculture.

The county is the second largest employer and undergoes a State HR audit every six years. Marijuana is still prohibited. The county met its Green House Gas goal two years early.

Questions and Answers

A question was posed about the $102,000 average salary reported in the VC Star, which exceeds the private sector. CEO Powers defended the 1.5% across the board increase, health care, targeted increases and 3.5% increase in pension costs saying that a five year forecast is made for each personnel change to understand the ramifications..

Another question concerned the lack of reporting for the Health Care Agency and lack of internal controls. Is there need for audit? CEO Powers said ‘yes’, and they are looking in to this. A consulting company (Huron) is working on the accounting system to produce financials more rapidly.

Observations

“Balanced budget with rainy day fund” is a statement not many government entities can make. CEO Powell has internalized these numbers and clearly has provided strong management skills for the county’s success.

 

For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com


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2 Responses to Spotlight | CEO Mike Powers State of the County 2018

  1. Sheryl July 29, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Pie charts here along with all slides …

    http://citizensjournal.us/michael-powers-the-state-of-the-county-is-strong/

    Reply
  2. Tom July 21, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    According to the California Controller

    Reply

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