Wildomar Blows The “Oviedo” Savings…

February 22, 2013

 

…BUT FOR A GOOD REASON

Former City Manager Frank Oviedo correctly, and wisely, interpreted Wildomar Magazine’s off-repeated mantra that a small community like Wildomar, with little or no development, could no longer afford the luxury of having two city executives.

As a result, his voluntary resignation in December 2012, provided an immediate savings of $125,000  to the city’s budget for fiscal year 2012-13, as well as an additional anticipated savings of $250,000 to the city’s budget for fiscal year 2013-14. (That’s a savings of $375,000! Since the city ended up last year with $1700 in surplus, it’s actually quite significant!!)

According to this morning’s Press-Enterprise, it appears that the County of Riverside is about to agree to a proposal for a loan modification of the monies spent by the County during  Wildomar’s first year of operation. The total obligation amounts to $1.7 million still owed to the County of Riverside.

Please click on the following link, to confirm:

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/riverside/riverside-headlines-index/20130221-region-county-to-consider-financial-aid-for-new-cities.ece

It appears that Wildomar has offered an initial repayment of $383,243 by July 13, 2013, with an annual payment of $100,000 per year until repaid entirely, thus permitting Wildomar to repay its debt without busting its budget.

Wildomar can afford to pay the $383,243, but only because of the significant “Oviedo” savings.

In my opinion, this fiscal arrangement appears to be the smart work of our new City Manager, Gary Nordquist, whose background in city finance has earned him well-deserved plaudits for his work in the City of Fontana. Wildomar is fortunate to have retained his talent and services our behalf.

As for the $100,000 per year loan payment, the City of Wildomar could/should again take the advice of Wildomar Magazine, as well as other citizens, and move City Hall onto the city-owned property known as Marna O’Brien Park, thus relieving the City budget of approximately $120,000 per year in lease payments for its current location in the Albertson’s shopping center. (See Wildomar Magazine Archives for Re-Thinking  Wildomar, and scroll down to August 13, 2012 article, “Saving Marna O’Brien Park Through…” for specific details, including the math.)

Additional, and immediate, savings of approximately  $300,000 per year could further be achieved by withdrawing from the enormously expensive Southwest Communities Finance Authority, which operates the Animal Friends of the Valley’s canine Taj Mahal ($15,000,000 construction bond obligation) and hiring its own animal control officer (to handle less than 5 cats/dogs per day, on average, according to Animal Friend’s statistics.)

The withdrawal only requires a 60 day written notice, repayment of the $57,000 loaned to the City of Wildomar for last year’s “payment shortfall,” and a little spine in the backs of the Wildomar City Council.(See Wildomar Magazine Archives for Re-Thinking  Wildomar, and scroll down to July 27, 2012 article, ” Bitten By Their Own Numbers” for specific details, including the math.)

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

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$aving Real Dollar$….

January 11, 2013

 

… FOR FUTURE CHEERABLE BUDGET EVENTS

Yesterday’s Press Enterprise article on Wednesday evening’s Wildomar City Council meeting included a recounting of a “cheer” emanating from the small audience in attendance, over the announcement of a monthly savings of $1700, apparently as a result of increased gasoline sales tax revenue.

Please click on the following link for confirmation and context:

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/wildomar/wildomar-headlines/20130109-wildomar-city-has-enough-for-housing-plan–and-surplus.ece

If you do the math ($1700 times 12 months), amounts to a modest but positive budgetary impact of $20,400 per year.

 However, with the voluntary departure of former City Manager Frank Oviedo, and the promotion of current City Manager Gary Nordquist, the City of Wildomar is saving $20,800 per month, which will have a much more meaningful positive budgetary impact of $125,000 in the current fiscal year, and $250,000 for the next fiscal year.

Now “that” is something to cheer about.

Comments and be made to zakturango@excite.com.

 Lest you forget, on October 27, 2011 (“Re-Thinking Wildomar; Competitiveness”), I had fearlessly recommended the elimination of Oviedo’s position in order to achieve this very savings.

Please click on the following link, if you desire, and scroll down to this particular article, for confirmation:

 https://wildomarmagazine.wordpress.com/category/re-thinking-wildomar/page/4/

If you think there is no power to ideas which emanate from outside the limited confines of Wildomar’s elected officials and staff, you would be mistaken.

Frank Oviedo assuredly understood such “power” and utilized control over  his as-yet relatively undamaged resume to wisely take advantage of a serendipitous opportunity to relocate in another city, albeit taking a lesser position than the one he formerly held in Wildomar.

For the record, there are still two more opportunities for future cheerable budget events; 1) Moving the Wildomar City Hall  to  Marna O’Brien Park (saving $100,000 + per year in lease payments) and 2) Seceding from theAnimal Friends/Southwest Communities Finance Authority (saving $250,000 +  per year in bond mortgage payments).


Un-Tying Frank Oviedo’s Fantasy…..

December 12, 2012

 

 

…EXECUTIVE KNOT

The opportunity to correct the executive “overreach” of former City Manager Frank Oviedo  is now within the grasp of the Wildomar City Council. Unfortunately, according to an article posted by Californian reporter Michael J. Williams, it appears that the newest member of the Council, Mayor Ben Benoit, appears to be unaware of  that opportunity.

Please click on the following link to the Californian article for confirmation:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/wildomar/wildomar-new-manager-s-contract-goes-to-council/article_d16006a7-1c32-58dc-95ed-d2d7eedcc86b.html

As previously stated in a recent Wildomar Magazine article, we applauded the hiring of Gary Nordquist as City Manager to replace Oviedo but have always been on record for recommending the elimination of the duplication of city executives, going so far as to recommend the elimination of Oviedo’s position to save $250,000 per year for re-allocation in Wildomar’s limited budget, as an economic “bridge” for parks until Measure Z funding is received, for example.

In response, knowing that there was no money for a raise, Oviedo sought and received, a three-month extension to his severance package on the City Council as a “poison pill,” should that “unthinkable” outcome become a reality. Fortunately for Wildomar, Oviedo’s voluntary resignation spared our city significant expense.

Gary Nordquist was originally hired to be Director of Finance, for which he is well-qualified and highly respected among his peers. Subsequent to his hiring, he was designated as “assistant city manager” by Oviedo, to represent the city, should an emergency arise while Oviedo was away from Wildomar, as it turns out, a not infrequent situation.

At no time, subsequent to our incorporation as a city in 2008, has the Wildomar City Council considered, deliberated or implemented through a formal vote, the hiring of any individual, including Gary Nordquist, to fill the non-existent position of Assistant City Manager.

Now that Oviedo is gone (as of December 31, 2012), and Nordquist has been formally hired as our City Manager, the Wildomar City Council has no choice but to “keep the Assistant City Manager’s position vacant,” since it doesn’t formally “exist.”

In the event that Nordquist identifies some executive deficit requiring additional staffing, he must make his case, with supporting documentation, to the Wildomar City Council, where it can be considered and deliberated upon in a properly-agendized Public Hearing. (Editor’s note: the City of Lake Elsinore operates with one city executive, although it is larger than Wildomar.)

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Wildomar’s Pathway to Fiscal Insolvency….

October 3, 2012

 

… ACCELERATES

With the recent action by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to increase the “overhead burden” for fire services, Wildomar’s precarious fiscal environment continues to degrade.

Please click on the following link to the Lake Elsinore/Wildomar Patch for context:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/costs-for-fire-services-rise-in-lake-elsinore-wildomar

Fire service in Wildomar will now cost a total of $511,596 (an increase of 7%+) each year for Riverside County to provide administration services to local municipalities within the county.

Unfortunately for Wildomar, it is unlikely that our elected officials possess sufficient political will and maturity to address the fiscal impacts upon our fair city.

For instance, they will continue to cling to their leased office space for City Hall, to the tune of $120,000 per year, when a viable alternative has been proposed (moving City Hall to Marna O’Brien Park).

So far, the only “un-official” response to the proposal has been for councilmember Marsha Swanson to call it “stupid.”

In addition, our elected officials will likely continue to support Wildomar’s membership in the Animal Friends/Southwest Communities Finance Authority, when a viable alternative has been proposed (Withdrawal from the agreement and creating our own properly-sized animal control service), at a net savings of approximately $200,000 per year.

There are other areas of savings, primarily in staff reductions, that could save the City of Wildomar an additional $200,000 + per year.

However, unless and until the two aforementioned “opportunities” are fully vetted by staff, and then considered in public deliberations, Wildomar will continue to “circle the drain” economically, accompanied by fatalistic handwringing, until it attains fiscal insolvency.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Argument In Favor of Measure….

August 21, 2012

 

…Z

In an ironic twist of fate, the powers-that-be have assigned the letter “Z” to Wildomar’s proposed $28 per year parcel tax measure, likely foreshadowing the future amount of revenue willingly provided by the voters of Wildomar, namely $$Zero dollars for parks.

Despite authorizing the expenditure of an additional $35,500 for the professional consulting services of the Lew Edwards Group (hereinafter “Edwards”), the following, rather amateurish Argument in Favor of Measure Zero is presented for your contemplation, with my commentary interlaced in blue italics:

 Argument in Favor of Measure Z

How can a city exist without parks? How can we let Wildomar become known as “the City without a single city park?”

Unfortunately, the opening argument is a false premise. The City Council has been presented with a plausible alternative to the current status of Marna O’Brien Park, whether or not Measure Zero attains a 66 2/3% majority vote necessary for its enactment. (For that matter,  scroll down to an earlier article on the issue provided by Wildomar Magazine).

By moving City Hall into prefabricated buildings located at  Marna O’Brien Park, Wildomar can re-allocate a significant portion of the $120,000 per year in unrecoverable lease payments into the care and upkeep of the park.

Do something about it!

Some of us are trying to save our park, by offering real-world solutions, but the Wildomar City Council isn’t listening.

Maybe they will after November 06, 2012.

Vote YES on Z to Save Wildomar Community Parks.

Wildomar has already closed two local community parks. Without Measure Z , Wildomar will have to close Marna O’Brien Park, leaving Wildomar without a city city park.

Windsong Park and Heritage/Regency Park are not “community” parks. Rather, they are neighborhood parks, which have no parking facilities nor any restroom facilities.

In any event, their closure is the responsibility of the Wildomar City Council, specifically Incumbent Councilmember Bridgette Moore, for whom parks have been her “signature issue,”  but apparently only if on her terms.

For some unknown reason, Bridgette has been unwilling to embrace the relocation of City Hall to Marna O’Brien Park, which will ultimately save the Marna O’Brien Park for the citizens of Wildomar.

 YES on Z will provide locally controlled funds to keep Wildomar’s parks open and address our local park priorities-with funds that are required by law to stay local and can’t be seized by Sacramento.

This particular ” red herring” is a contrivance developed by the Oakland-based (not that far from Sacramento) consultant, Edwards, and is a part of their telephone survey “premise” that 90-98% of the people they spoke to allegedly supported.

For context, the Edwards survey question, was as follows: “Regardless of your opinion of the measure, after I mention each one, please tell me how important that provision or use of funds is to you personally;

1) Requiring that all funds are used locally. (98% against)
2) Guaranteeing that no funds are taken by Sacramento.” (90% against)

Naturally, such leading questions would likely provoke a deep response.

What hurts the survey’s credibility is the preamble, “Regardless of your opinion of the measure.”

I guess, after all, the telephone survey wasn’t about a park tax measure in Wildomar. Rather, it was about 300 Wildomarian’s opinions regarding tax policy and tax practices emanating from Sacramento, a completely different and separate issue.

And the City Council wasted $22,500 for that questionable methodology and conclusion?

YES on Z requires that every dime from Measure Z is used locally to save Wildomar community parks.

Unfortunately, if Measure Z fails to attain the 66 2/3% threshold required, that “requirement” will be rendered moot.

YES on Z maintains safe playground equipment
YES on Z maintains clean public restrooms
YES on Z restores park security patrols and safe lighting
YES on Z removes park graffiti
YES on Z maintains sports fields
YES on Z requires mandatory independent financial audits

Each of the above will be achieved when City Hall is re-located to Marna O’Brien Park.

Local community parks give local kids a healthy, safe place to play when they are not in school.

YES on Z includes tough Accountability Provisions and Safeguards.

As does any current city financial  activity.

YES on Z requires independent financial audits to ensure that funds are spent Saving Wildomar Community Parks only.

As does any current city financial  activity.

In these tough economic times, local community parks offer one of the few affordable options for recreation.

Therein lies the “root” of the problem for Measure Z.

The Wildomar City Council squandered their “best opportunity” for the passage of a parcel tax in June 2011. Had they engaged the Edwards group last year, rather than relying upon a blue-ribbon committee of amateurs, who were led astray by a consulting group seeking future employment to administrate a Mello Roos/Community Facilities District, they would not be attempting a parcel tax in a far tougher economic and political environment than existed in June 2011.

The current adverse political environment is one of their own creation.

YES on Z would ensure local families and residents can enjoy the inexpensive, healthy entertainment and recreation that local community parks provide.

Join residents, business and community leaders in supporting YES on Z to SAVE WILDOMAR COMMUNITY PARKS.

All funds are required by law to be used locally and cannot be taken to Sacramento.

But those funds can be “given” to any park-related consultant and/or  subcontractor , the City Council may deem desirable.

Vote YES on Z

 Do so, if you believe there are no alternatives to a parcel tax.

 My guess is that 40% of the voters will still vote no .

 Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

The argument was signed by the following:
Ben Benoit, Mayor of Wildomar
Tom Tisdale, Retired Cal Fire, Riverside County Fire Department
Stan Crippen, Trustee, Lake Elsinore Unified School District
Craig MacKenzie, Chairman of the Board, Wildomar Chamber of Commerce
Tim Underdown, Men’s Auxiliary President, VFW Post 1508

I think would be fair to name this group, the Baby Blue Ribbon Committee, for foolishly lending their names, prestige, and support to such a flawed process and argument.


Bridgette Makes Her Case For….

August 18, 2012

 

 

..RE-ELECTION

According to Thomas Jefferson, “A democracy requires an informed electorate to survive.”

Therefore, based on the above, incumbent Wildomar City councilmember Bridgette Moore, developed her own re-election website to inform the voting citizens of Wildomar as to the various reasons she thinks she should be re-elected on November 06, 2012.

Please click on the following link to her website, as follows:

http://electbridgette.org/Candidate_Statement.html

Fortunately for the electorate, this also provides an opportunity for others, such as myself, to review and comment on her arguments for reelection.

We will discuss, in the next few moments, those issues of leadership which Bridgette claims as a basis for reelection. In addition, we will discuss important “omissions” to her political “resume,” which also reflect on her quest for reelection.

1) “The City of Wildomar needs experienced councilmembers to lead us through this time.”

Experience will generally give us insight into the future deliberations and voting patterns of politicians, at all levels. That insight can cut both ways, both positive and negative. As we continue our review of Bridgette’s arguments in favor of her reelection, we have the benefit of her public experience to assist us in our consideration and contemplations.

2) “Wildomar continues to build a strong financial foundation by living within our means and fighting to ensure your tax dollars stay local.”

Wildomar has anything but a strong financial foundation and appears to be operating on a shoestring. The primary reason for this economic condition is the nationwide economic recession that is affecting every element of our fiscal lives, both private and public. Bridgette Moore and her colleagues on the City Council have little or no impact on the revenues necessary to govern.

However, she does have impact on how we spend our money.

“Living within our means” has little credibility when Bridgette Moore and City Manager Frank Oviedo, on behalf of the city of Wildomar, foolishly led Wildomar into participation with the Animal Friends of the Valley/Southwest Communities Finance Authority (AFV/JPA), which is currently costing Wildomar more than $425,000 per year, while continuing to ignore (City Council or staff should at least explore its feasibility) a reasonable proposal for the establishment of Wildomar’s own municipal animal control service, which could be accomplished for approximately $175,000 per year.

3) “Fighting to ensure your tax dollars stay local.”

Obviously Bridgette has “locked on” to this consultant-created phrase, which was employed by the Lew Edwards Group (“Edwards”) to produce a questionable 77% “support” for the proposed $28 per year parcel tax measure (“Measure Z”) which will be on the November 2012 ballot.

Bridgette would like you to ignore the $58,000 which is currently being paid to Edwards, an Oakland-based consultant group to facilitate passage of Measure Z. So much for keeping taxes local. (Does it matter to you whether or not Bridgette sends  our money to Oakland or Sacramento?).

In addition, despite their initial failure in the Sacramento Legislature, Bridgette continues to support sending $3000 per month ($36,000 annually) to Gonsalves & Associates, a Sacramento-based lobbyist firm.

Given that the state’s finances appear to be even more desperate than when the lobbyist was first retained, the continued expenditure of $3000 per month chasing Vehicle License Fees (“VLF”) which are likely to never be returned to Wildomar, hardly qualifies as “fighting to ensure your tax dollars stay local.”

3) Omissions.

Despite the fact that “parks” has probably been Bridgette’s signature issue, she only lists her participation in the Wildomar Parks Formation Committee in the second paragraph of her candidate statement.

Perhaps my public accusation at the last city Council meeting, that the this year’s push for a new park tax measure, barely a year after the last one failed, is a thinly-veiled campaign ploy to re-elect Bridgette, has made her wary of claiming a leadership role (“I’m trying”) in this latest endeavor. (The omission suggests that my accusation has some traction).

Whatever the outcome for Measure Z, Bridgette and her colleagues on the City Council squandered $100,000 plus on last year’s badly-bungled Mello Roos/CFD measure, not to mention diminishing the potential for passage of measure Z, by squandering the city’s first/best opportunity to gain a replacement tax.

I can’t say that I blame her for wanting to stay as far way from parks issues as she possibly can.

To be fair, Bridgette Moore is a popular local politician. The list of civic organizations she participates in is ample evidence that she is not lazy or uninvolved in local events.

However, as a City councilmember, she is making decisions on our behalf that have had negative economic implications for the City of Wildomar, which  implications should be included in your personal and private deliberations as to whom you are voting for on November 06, 2012.

It’s “okay” to admire her, just don’t “rehire” her.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Wildomar Incumbent’s Worst….

August 17, 2012

 

….NIGHTMARE

Since deciding not to make the attempt to win a seat on the Wildomar City Council dais, I have been enjoying the quasi-euphoric and blissful state of  “I feel much better now that I have given up hope” for Wildomar’s future.

Nevertheless, the ineptitude of City Councilmember Bridgette Moore and the overly tepid, mild-mannered demeanor of fellow councilmember Bob Cashman would continue to be the hapless destiny of the City of Wildomar, unless Fate somehow intervened on Wildomar’s behalf.

Last evening, following the city-sponsored Candidate Orientation, I met privately with one of the new candidates for the office of City Council, Mitch Miller.

As result, my euphoric state is now based on a “Return To Hope.”

Mitch Miller appears to be a bright and energetic young man, whose political bent and professional life-experiences will make him a formidable candidate to replace either Moore or Cashman.

If you want a peek at him, out of curiosity, and want a preliminary taste of his natural fiscally-conservative proclivities, please click on the following link to his Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/MitchMillerforCityCouncil

As you can see, Miller, who has already taken a public position in opposition to any new taxes, including the parks parcel tax, as proposed by the Committee to Re-elect Bridgette Moore (also known as the “Wildomar City Council and Staff”), is open to the alternative of moving City Hall to Marna O’Brien Park, thereby saving the park for the community without the imposition of any new taxes.

As the campaign unfolds, Wildomar Magazine will continue to illuminate its readers by providing information on Miller’s candidacy as it develops.

Needless to say, it appears that Bridgette and Bob will still have to try to find a way to defend, or deflect from, their indefensible voting records and the adverse economic consequences of their votes for our community.

That will be a political “nightmare” of monumental proportions for them.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

Miller is young and energetic, two attributes I no longer possess.

Thank you, Fate.