Filling Strobel’s position also discussed
By Misty Volaski
Tuesday night, City Hall was as packed with residents as the Ojai City Council agenda was with items. The meeting covered a broad range of topics: the 2010-2011 proposed budget, the retirement and replacement of City Clerk Carlon Strobel, the 8-foot fence slated to surround the new Ojai Skate Park, and the increase in fees for nonresidents wishing to participate in Ojai Recreation Department activities.
Residents had a lot to say about the 8-foot fence slated to surround the new Ojai Skate Park, continuing the debate from last week’s school board meeting. Council members made it clear that the ultimate decision on the height of the fence was the school board’s choice, since the park is on Ojai Unified School District land. The issue of surveillance cameras was again brought up, which Councilwoman Sue Horgan said the council would consider. “We recommended that OUSD look at other options,” said Mayor Steve Olsen. “We’re on the same page.”
Councilwoman Carol Smith added, “It is up to the School District. We’re on your side, but the School District owns the property.”
Olsen defused what would have been another heated debate, this time on the replacement of Strobel, who is retiring effective July 1. The agenda had originally recommended that Kersnar take over the position temporarily, but Olsen was able to get former City Clerk Cindy Burrell to fill in until the newly elected clerk is sworn in this December. “It seemed a natural progression,” he said after the meeting, “if we weren’t going to have (city manager Jere Kersnar) step in.”
After many comments from the public, which praised Olsen’s recommendation, the council moved to have Burrell be the temporary clerk, and to seek out and hire a new records manager, a job Strobel also did.
Kersnar then presented the second portion of next year’s budget to the council, which contained items not included in the general fund. The council accepted the new information, and agreed to just one change thus far — to give the Stop the Trucks committee the full $18,000 agreed upon for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, instead of rolling over the unused funds from last year (roughly $12,000). No other amendments were made Tuesday, but more are expected at the June 15 and 22 meetings.
“We still have time to make amendments to the budget in the next couple of weeks,” Olsen pointed out. “The budget is a working document that we can change, add, take away from during the year. The budget looks good so far, considering that revenues have declined 20 percent in the last few years.”
Finances were also on the minds of several residents concerned with the Ojai Recreation Department’s increase in nonresident fees. One speaker read a statement from the O’Reilly family, which has several children in the ORD’s tennis program. They estimated that they’d have to pay $600 more than last year in order to continue to participate. Collette Miller then presented a petition from several ORD tennis players. Councilwoman Smith responded, saying she wished it didn’t have to be this way, but that “the county gives us nothing anymore. The county has gone out of the recreation business.”
Other residents suggested that nonresidents be allowed to pay a flat rate, or even a multiple family member discount. Kersnar later noted that it was a possibility, and that the city could look into it. Olsen said another option would be to extend the recreation district to line up with the school district boundaries, but that would require a two-thirds vote to increase taxes. Said Kersnar: “We understand the wisdom of this, but it probably isn’t going to be happening any time soon.”
The Ojai City Council will meet next Tuesday, June 15; the public is welcome to attend, and can find the agenda online at ci.ojai.ca.us.