Thousand Oaks Council Address Gas Tax and the State of Local Roads — Honor Local Centenarian

By Kevin Harris

T.O. City Council: Local roads will benefit from capital reserve funds while city grants $2.5 million for unique public park

During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the Council directed staff to prepare to make a one-time transfer of Capital Reserve Funds from the city’s General Fund, to citywide streets and street projects. The Council also approved a $2.5 million grant, funding a multipurpose park – to the sound of cheers of a small but enthusiastic crowd.

Item 9A

Item 9A was a “study session,” designed for the Council to receive information on the city’s upcoming Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budgets. The presentation was given by Thousand Oaks Finance Director, John Adams, who explained that the largest budget areas for the city are streets, and water/waste water. Also, according to Adams, “The top 10 capital improvement projects represent 40% of the city’s operating budget.”

Adams said that the city is already in the hole about $18 million from deferred pavement requirements. Meaning, the city has been putting off needed repairs for several years due to funding shortfalls, and now those repairs are needed. “Staff is proposing a one-time transfer from the general fund to deal with that, but we’re also asking for zero deferments in 2017-18 to make that work,” Adams told the Council.

Adams also talked briefly about SB-1, the recent statewide transportation/gas tax, during his presentation. He said that by 2020, Thousand Oaks will get $3 million annually from it for road repairs.

 

During a questions and comments period from the Council following the presentation, several council members chimed in on the issues. Council Member Rob McCoy took issue with SB-1. “If we’re going to be burdened with a tax, we want to get the most out of it as possible,” he said. “They’re going to take $15 million out of us (city taxpayers), and the city gets $3 million back,” he added. McCoy explained that he doesn’t want it to seem like the state is saving Thousand Oaks with SB-1, and that he’d rather see a solution where we get all, or most of our money back.

McCoy even mentioned the small local sales tax legislation that was narrowly voted down in a past election, which he now wondered out loud, if he would support. He voted against it at the time.

Council Member Al Adam brought up another issue to John Adams – the need for a sidewalk along Conejo School Road. Al Adam suggested the sidewalk be pushed up to a “priority one” issue, in part, because of a 40-unit condo being built there, but also because of the lack of any existing sidewalk on many spots along the road. John Adams responded positively, and said they can definitely make that a “priority one” issue.

Council Member Joel Price clarified the decision to approve of the one-time transfer from the General Fund’s reserves to finally make the deferred road repairs. “We are the largest city in the state that doesn’t have a transportation tax. So that makes it difficult for our elected officials in Washington to get money for any transportation projects for anyone in Ventura County,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Fox summed up the issue with the following: “We’re doing exactly what we said we’d do. We don’t have to do it, and it doesn’t have the sizzle that some people would like (us to spend the money on). But this is where we need to spend this money, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said.

The motion to transfer $10.8 million from the General Fund Reserves, and to come back on June 13, 2017 for a public hearing on the CIP budget, passed unanimously.

Item 10A

Item 10A was a “Department Report,” – dealing with whether the Council should approve of the Sapwi Trails Community Park Grant Agreement and the Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD). Also, whether to authorize expenditure of a $2.5 million grant for the park. Many local residents attended the Council Meeting specifically for this issue.

The 144-acre park sits partially between Avenida de los Arboles at Kensington Ave., and Westlake Blvd. at Rainfield. When completed, it will be multi-use, with hiking trails, bike paths, a non-motorized airplane glider section, disc frisbee golf, a bike pump track, equestrian access, a playground, picnic tables, and several restrooms. Construction is set to begin this Summer, and is expected to be completed by Winter, 2019.

Several public speakers voiced their appreciation to the Council for their consideration and past support, and their opinions as to why supporting the current project would benefit the community. Speakers included a cyclist, the head of a local disc golf association, and a remote airplane glider enthusiast, among others. But they were unanimous in their support of the park.

Even the Council Members who spoke seemed unanimously in favor of the project. Council Member Joel Price: “Somehow, this is easy,” he said. “I think maybe people would even be willing to overlook a pothole or two in order to have such a unique park. So I am happy to enthusiastically support this, although I don’t want potholes,” he added.

The Council voted unanimously in support of granting the $2.5 million grant to Satwi Park. The small crowd departed after the vote.

Item 5A

Earlier during the meeting, the Council gave a special commendation to long time Thousand Oaks resident Lena Chambers, who was celebrating her 100th birthday.

Mayor Claudia Bill de la Pena, and resident Lena Chambers
On her 100th birthday

 

The next City Council Meeting will be Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 6:00 PM. To watch the City Council meeting online, go to: http://www.toaks.org/departments/city-manager-s-office/public-information-office/totv/watch-videos. Then scroll down to “available archives” and click on “city council.”  The meeting agenda is available at http://71.165.173.179/WebLinkPublic/0/doc/1215071/Page1.aspx.


Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also a Realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks 

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