Santa Paula Times

Community reaffirms support of localized public safety

May 26, 2004
Santa Paula City Council

The community reconfirmed its support to keep public safety services local at a special City Council meeting held May 20 at the Community Center.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe community reconfirmed its support to keep public safety services local at a special City Council meeting held May 20 at the Community Center.Many members of the Santa Paula Police and Fire departments were on hand to hear the council discussion that focused heavily on police services.City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz led off with a presentation on public safety options including the controversial feasibility study by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department on contract services.One thing is clear: more money is needed so that the city does not become “an island of services less than the standard in Ventura County,” he noted.Public comment included numerous community members who all said that they supported retaining the SPPD as well as the SPFD.“I like what we’re doing here and recommend that you keep the same here and not outsource,” public safety services to the county, said banker Joe Nesbitt.Jess Victoria thanked the council for the meeting as “this is exactly what we the people need.”He suggested that a management audit mirroring the Arroyo Associates of the SPPD be done for the SPFD, “so we know exactly what we need and don’t need.”“It goes without saying but unfortunately, prior administrations had not prepared,” to enhance police and fire services and a specific tax would help beef up the departments, said Realtor Scott RushingRaquel Bustillos said if the city loses localized public safety services Santa Paulans should shop elsewhere as sales tax revenues would be wasted.Santa Paula is at risk during emergencies due to its location, said Flo Zakrajshek, finding it self at times “virtually cut off from the rest of the county. . .and once you lose a service you never get it back.”
The Chamber of Commerce representative John Chamberlain said the business group finds “safety and the perception of safety very important.”“I have no objection to any initiative if it is fair for all of us,” said Ofelia de la Torre, and although usually tax measures target property owners “I would like to see one that everyone pays evenly. I would not support an initiative if the money is handed over to the county,” for supplying public safety services.With development will come added revenues, said Robert Salas, who urged that the council calculate a tax that would take future revenue streams into consideration.Ventura College Criminal Justice Professor Richard Goff said that contract cost-effectiveness can not be relied on and contracting services “gives the council little budgetary wiggle-room. . .”“Public speaking is not my strong thing to do,” but the importance of the issue propelled remarks, noted Linda Fike, who urged the council “not to give away control. . .”Newer resident Kevin Brown said he has learned that hometown policing is the only way to go and Ed Beach noted that the council should not base it’s decisions on “projected, surmised and presumed” costs and services.“There’s no confusion on where I stand,” said SPPD Chief Bob Gonzales, who also urged that the local department be kept under the city umbrella.Councilman Ray Luna said he is now against a tax “although I could change my mind,” and believes that an increased tax base is now on the horizon.“What the public feels is a very clear message to us,” said Councilman John Procter, and the “unintended consequence, well not all that unintended,” result of the options study was “to get people fired up about this. . .”None of the council has ever discussed contracting with the VCSD, said Acting Mayor Rick Cook, but even with looming state budget cuts “I do not support the VCSD contract because we can’t pay it, it’s higher” with contract costs projected to grow even larger.“You make the decision,” at the ballot box, Cook added.