Census changes cost trolley
by Chris Wilson
Tuesday evening got off to an electrifying start when City
Councilwoman Sue Horgan, Police Chief Gary Pentis and one reporter
jumped into a newly donated Ford Think and took a spin around
The new electric car, donated by Bill Hicks and Barber Ford,
looks like a fancy open-air golf cart. It has a 30-mile range,
regenerative breaking and a top speed of about 25 miles per hour.
That was the good transportation news.
Financial troubles could be brewing for the Ojai Trolley service
thanks to a reclassification of Ojai in 2000 census data. The
trolley and Help of Ojai's transit have been relying on government
grant funds that support rural public transportation projects.
But Dan Singer gave the council some late-breaking news. Ojai,
no longer a rural community according to the census, has been
designated as part of the urbanized portion of Ventura County
along with Ventura, Oxnard, and Port Hueneme This means the
nearly $200,000 in Federal Transit Act entitlement grant funding
will run out sometime late next year. Though partially sponsored
by the County of Ventura, Singer said other funding sources would
have to be found.
Certain Ojai city employees will be getting a boost in pay thanks
to a study conducted by consultant Tony Gerczak of Personnel
Concepts, Inc., of Roseville, Calif. The classification and compensation
study compared the pay scale of city employees compared to other
municipalities throughout the state and is meant to keep Ojai
inline and competitive in the job market. Ojai was compared to
towns such as Sausalito, Del Mar, and Los Altos Hills, among
Gerczak told the council the city's job titles and descriptions
were a mess, and the results of the study if implemented will
give the city clearer direction on what employees do as part
of their job descriptions. This will create a clearer framework
and a so-called "benchmark class" for the hiring and
attracting of new employees.
Councilwoman Horgan disagreed with the findings of the study,
though, and said she felt Ojai could not be adequately compared
to the cities Gerczak used in his study. She also felt that giving
some employees gratuitous raises, not based on performance or
longevity, could send the wrong message and affect general morale
for those who do not get a pay boost.
"I think the study is flawed," Horgan said. "If
we just give raises selectively, I don't think that is appropriate
and I think it's bad management."
Horgan was unable to rally other council members to her cause,
though Mayor Pro Tem Joe DeVito did offer her the option of continuing
the item so it could be studied by a committee and then voted
on at a subsequent meeting. Horgan rejected this idea, further
stating that the study included no cost analysis and didn't show
the financial impact it would have on the city. The council voted
4-1 to phase in the results of the study which will result in
an average of 3.5 percent raises for certain employees over the
next several years. It will go into effect July 1.
Next, as the city winds down its fiscal year, City Manager Dan
Singer asked for a little more time to put the finishing touches
on the budget for the coming year. The council unanimously approved
a continuation of all city expenditures beyond June 30, 2002
and set a public hearing for the new budget at the July 9 meeting.
Finally the Council chambers received a new plaque showing all
the names of the citizens honored by the Ojai Historic Preservation
Commission. Since 1991 the commission has honored Julie Del Pozzo,
Bruce Dunwoody, Robert Smith, Craig Walker, William Bowie, David
Mason, Janice and Dennis Prairie, Patricia Fry, Rose Boggs, Elizabeth
McAllister, Cricket Twitchell, David Bury, Ginger Wilson, Tony
Thacher and Julie Tumamait-Stenslie.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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