Santa Paula Times

Supervisor Long addresses Good Morning Santa Paula on variety of issues

October 27, 2010
Santa Paula News

Attending events such as Good Morning Santa Paula are the fun part of the job, Supervisor Kathy Long told the crowd gathered at the October meeting, but “It’s the work that can be challenging.”

Long covered a wide range of topics at the monthly Chamber of Commerce-sponsored breakfast meeting held at Logsdon’s at the Santa Paula Airport.

The good news is the state finally adopted its way-overdue budget. “But,” the bad news is “we already have a $10 billion deficit; it means they moved things around, didn’t handle the issues.”

And with the budget adopted 100 days past its deadline, Long said the state “will probably be behind the curve in paying us in a timely manner.” The “ugly,” in addition to the deficit, is “This budget hurts the most vulnerable... families and kids.” The successful CalWorks program is threatened, and although Long said the county will try to address childcare, “It doesn’t really look solid for next year.”

Ventura County’s $1.69 billion budget was passed on time, with no substantial layoffs or reductions due to negotiations with nine labor bargaining units who agreed to pay more towards their pension packages.

But the reduction might not save the county from layoffs and service cuts next fiscal year.

“It’s a challenging process that does not get easier” with the relationship with the state that Long said could be positively impacted by bringing local services under local control. “Santa Paula,” like others, “struggles with the same thing” as the state withholds or borrows more and more funding to deal with their own deficit.

Other good news is the county’s solid investments, including the one they made by purchasing the former Santa Paula Memorial Hospital. Now Santa Paula Hospital - operated under the umbrella of the Ventura County Health Care Agency and its Medical Center - has received “great support from the community” and has exceeded expectations, including “being in the black three years before projection, ahead of the curve.”

In fact the hospital has done so well that a new location for physical and occupational therapy was opened at the Santa Paula Shopping Center. In addition, in August the county hospitals were declared “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization, among only 96 so designated nationwide.

Long said the hospital has treated 13,281 emergency patients this year, “doing what we said we’d do.... Especially in emergency response, families get the service and the comfort they need.”

Long said the county’s Behavioral Health offices on West Harvard Boulevard will move to a different facility, and county staff is working with the city to find a suitable location.

The controversial Caltrans Highway 126 barrier project is “on the shelf” for the time being due to budget cuts and required further study, but “soft improvements” such as lowering the speed limit have been implemented.