“Sales Tax Revenue Sharing”, the phrase is becoming a common one as things progress concerning the City of Fillmore’s arrangements to split its share of the sales tax revenue rebate with three consultant firms contracted to bring new businesses into town. To recap, California cities are rebated 1% of all sales taxes collected in their cities. MTS Consulting LLC, Inspired Development LLC and Ryan and Co., retain agreements with the City of Fillmore to relocate retail businesses to our town in exchange for 85% of the 1% rebated dollars, generated by those businesses. The consulting firms then share their portion with the individual contracted businesses. Unanimously voted in by a previous City Council including Mayor Evaristo Barajas, Mayor Pro-tem Ernie Villegas, Cecilia Cuevas, Ken Smedley and Patti Walker, the City has benefited from this practice since 2003. It also has the endorsement of the present City Council and Administration officials. Nevertheless, Fillmore is the only city of record in the State to practice Sales Tax Revenue Sharing in this specific manner.

The issue was publicized this summer when the City of Livermore, after researching the cause for a substantial decrease in their sales tax rebates, filed complaints with the State Board of Equalization (BOE), against Fillmore. Livermore is home to one of four warehouse/sales offices in California; of Virginia based Fortune Five Hundred company Owens and Minor, a leading medical/surgical supplier. City of Industry, location of a second warehouse/sales office joined in the complaint. Both cities, declaring that business is going on as usual at their locations, take a position that the agreement between Fillmore, MTS Consulting and Owens and Minor is depriving their cities of their rightful taxes, by diverting sales through Owens and Minor’s office in the Gurolla Building on Sespe Avenue.

On September 8, 2008, the Cities of Livermore and Industry took the issue a step further by filing a claim against the City of Fillmore and all members past and present of the Fillmore City Council beginning in 2000. Various past and present City officials; City Manager Tom Ristau, Finance Director Barbara Smith, Administrative Services Manager Steve McClary, Roy Payne, and others yet to be identified are included as well. The claim accuses the three consultant services and several affiliated businesses registered in Fillmore, of establishing sham sales/purchasing offices in Fillmore with the intention of diverting sales tax revenues from other cities. It should be noted that a claim, though a legal instrument, might or might not be a precursor to a lawsuit.
From its’ inception in 2003 through 2007, the “Sales Tax Revenue Sharing” program alone has grossed $9,994,260 in rebated sales tax. The City’s 15% share of these rebates, nearly $1,500,000, was appropriated to the Reserve General Fund, and earmarked for additional law enforcement services. Additionally, a portion of these funds will offset some construction expenses of the new 22-acre community park. CONTINUED »

 


 

Fillmore's Planning Commission held a meeting September 17, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. Community Development Director Kevin McSweeney updated the Commission on various projects throughout the city.

The Commission approved changes to the plans for the upcoming Longs Drugstore, which will be located in a shopping center to be built on the corner of C Street and Highway 126. Longs will have two drive-thru windows. The inner drive-thru will access a bank-style window in the side of the building and can be used for pharmacy consults as well as prescription pick-ups. The outer drive-thru will access a pneumatic tube that customers can use to drop off prescriptions. Allowing two drive-thru windows, instead of one, will significantly reduce the number of cars waiting in line. The Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Longs to sell alcohol, and adjusted a previously poorly-described lot line so that the store would sit on its own parcel.
The Commission discussed a Right-to-Farm Ordinance, which would protect agricultural businesses from nuisance suits by their neighbors. The Ordinance was modeled after a Ventura County law that applies to neighborhoods on County land. The Ordinance would require that in agricultural areas realtors notify potential purchasers and users of land about potential nuisances resulting from area agriculture. Nuisances could include dust, noise, insects, smells, and chemical exposure. The County Agricultural Commissioner would mediate nuisance disputes between farmers and nearby residents. As City Attorney Ted Schneider wrote in the relevant memo, "right-to-farm ordinances mainly serve to inform and educate residents about the local value of agriculture." The Commission recommended that the City Council approve the Ordinance at the next Council meeting.

McSweeney notified the Commission that the pool and skate-park are on schedule. The Groves wants to change its zoning so that it can harbor a fast-food place instead of a restaurant. Many retail and residential projects are moving forward.

 


 
Last week the screw press was lifted into place in the new Water Recycling Plant. The screw press separates the solids from the waste water after treatment in the plant. The screw press presses the water out of the solids then the solids will be trucked to Toland Road landfill where they will be dried with landfill gas. After drying they can be used as a soil amendment.
Last week the screw press was lifted into place in the new Water Recycling Plant. The screw press separates the solids from the waste water after treatment in the plant. The screw press presses the water out of the solids then the solids will be trucked to Toland Road landfill where they will be dried with landfill gas. After drying they can be used as a soil amendment.
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Workers at the plant number 70 to 80 a day, according to Public Works Director Bert Rapp. “It’s just like a beehive out there.”
Workers at the plant number 70 to 80 a day, according to Public Works Director Bert Rapp. “It’s just like a beehive out there.”
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Last week Mayor Steve Conaway and Mayor Pro Tem Cecilia Cuevas achieved significant progress with FEMA over proposed new floodplain regulations that may have required most Fillmore homeowners to purchase costly flood insurance.

In a conference call held September 18 that included Fillmore, County and other local officials, FEMA agreed to the removal of a new flood zone designation that would have covered most of Fillmore. On May 30 FEMA published a draft Flood Insurance Rate Map that if adopted next year would have required most Fillmore homeowners to purchase flood insurance at a cost of about $100 per month.

FEMA had two reasons for the proposed flood zone designations. First, FEMA asserted that an automatic, mechanical flood gate was needed in the Sespe Creek Levee gap for the railroad cut-through. Second, FEMA proposed to negate the entire two miles of the Sespe Creek levee due to floodwaters expected to encroach onto the levee’s freeboard in a major flood.

In the conference call, Mayor Conaway and Mayor Pro Tem Cuevas gained concessions from newly appointed FEMA Region 9 Engineering Director Kathleen Schaefer to allow the continued use of the aluminum stop logs in the railroad cut-through of the Sespe Creek Levee instead of requiring installation of an automatic flood gate, provided that documentation and analysis be provided to FEMA to support that adequate and timely installation procedures are in place for installation of the stop logs.

With regard to FEMA negating the entire two miles of the Sespe Creek Levee due to encroaching floodwaters at the Hwy. 126 bridge, Director Schaefer indicated that she would allow the Ventura County Watershed Protection District to apply to provisionally accredit the Sespe Creek Levee. This will allow another year for submitting an engineering analysis to determine more accurately how much of the levee may be accredited and what portions, if any, will not be accredited until a retrofit is completed.

With these new concessions from FEMA, Mayor Conaway says he “is optimistic that when the revised FEMA maps are released the number of homes required to obtain flood insurance will be reduced by 80 percent or more”. Mayor Pro Tem Cuevas indicated that the “draft floodway through the western half of Fillmore should now be removed because FEMA has agreed to acknowledge the stop logs in the railroad gap and the sufficiency of the upper portions of the Sespe Creek Levee.” If the floodway had been adopted, homeowners in western portions of Fillmore could not have been allowed to make room additions, finance their homes, or be issued building permits on empty lots.

Fillmore Public Works Director Bert Rapp said he is “pleased with progress made by Conaway and Cuevas, but there is still at least a year or two of hard work ahead of us with FEMA to resolve the possible flooding issues ”I am confident all of the areas of Flood Zone A can be eliminated so no one will have to purchase flood insurance,” Rapp said.

 


 
Fillmore Pastor-Farmer Bob Hammond poses before the wind machine he is attempting to convert to electric generation. He has had very little assistance from the numerous government agencies through which he seeks approval.
Fillmore Pastor-Farmer Bob Hammond poses before the wind machine he is attempting to convert to electric generation. He has had very little assistance from the numerous government agencies through which he seeks approval.
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Ventura County is no stranger to wind machines. The 30 to 40 foot structures resembling windmills have been part of our farming landscape for many decades. They were designed and installed, primarily to prevent crops from freezing, warming the air during cold snaps in wintertime. Bob Hammond, retired educator, Anglican minister and third generation owner of Hammond Family Ranch, inherited one of these ancient structures along with his nine-acre citrus ranch located on Chambersburg Road in Bardsdale.

Early last July, Hammond read an article in Central Coast Farm Bureau Magazine concerning wind turbines. Specifically designed to harness energy from wind, they are similarly structured with towers and propellers, resembling wind machines. He began thinking about utilizing his existing tower and converting his wind machine into a productive, clean energy maker, to help power his farming operation, cut ever rising costs, and help preserve the environment all at the same time. After contacting Prevailing Wind Power Inc., a Redondo Beach firm, specializing in state-of-the-art, turnkey, turbine solutions, Bob Hayes, a representative of the company visited him. Hayes explained that wind power is the fastest growing energy sector, and how wind turbines help to reduce costs and traditional energy usage from gas and electric driven generators, recharging stations for battery-powered farm equipment, and in rural locations, homes, barns and out buildings. Both men toured the property and Hayes determined that the prevailing winds were sufficient to power his company’s smaller model. That model is 12 feet in diameter and sits atop a 40-foot tower, generates 500-700 kilowatt-hours per month and carries a price tag of $14,500. Hammond was convinced, especially after Hayes informed him of the State’s substantial rebate of $4,200.

The next phase should have been easy. Hayes phoned the Ventura County Planning Department for information on the permitting process and fees for wind turbine installation. He was advised by the planning office, that wind turbines require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), carrying a fee of $1500. He personally visited the Planning Department, and was shocked to find that Ventura County not only required Planning fees, but Administrative, Environmental, Public Works and Building and Safety fees as well, initially totaling $5,651. However, that was not all. He was also informed that the Planning and Public Works fees were merely deposits, and upon completion of the project, the final, total fees could be closer to $10,000, with no certainty that approval would be granted. Before he left, he learned the process could take months or even years. This is a far cry from Hayes’ claim that State guidelines, practiced in other California counties such as San Diego County, require a permit fee of $42 for wind turbines, installed on any parcel, one acre or more, and are issued over the counter. (Still other counties charge several hundred dollars for CUP fees and may take several weeks for application.) Hayes also says, “State law says that a non-urban lot of an acre or more is allowed to put up a small wind turbine, but Ventura County zoning does not abide by that law.” CONTINUED »

 


 

Five passengers in a sedan driven by Fillmore resident Gerardo Villa, 32, were killed in a collision with a power pole Tuesday about 5 a.m.

The California Highway Patrol identified the deceased as Guillermo Aguiniga, 29; Juan Carlos Gallardo, 34; his brother Miguel Gallardo, 23; Horacio Sanchez, 23; and Raul Fletes, 43.

All 5 passengers were ejected from the vehicle at the time of impact. Only the driver was wearing a seat belt.
An Edison Company crew found the accident scene about 6:00 a.m. when responding to a power outage. Guiberson Road was closed to traffic for approximately 5 hours.

According to CHP reports, Villa, the only survivor of the accident, was treated at the Ventura County Medical Center for undisclosed injuries. He was later arrested for felony drunk driving, driving with a suspended or revoked license, and vehicular manslaughter. He is reported held at Ventura County Jail with bail set at $500,000.

 


 
Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Board held a regular meeting September 16, 2008, at 5:15 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Office. The Principals of FUSD’s Schools presented a District Student Performance Report based on annual test results. Superintendent Jeff Sweeney presented to the Board the District’s response to the Grand Jury regarding Middle School Safety Recommendations. The Board approved two field trips to Fort Tejon.

The Board met with School Administrators in a study session at the beginning of the Board meeting. The District and Schools have recently received results from various standardized tests given in May. These tests impact the Schools’ Academic Performance Index (API), which is a State standard, and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which is a Federal standard connected with No Child Left Behind. Each Principal presented the Board with an explanation of their scores and an intervention plan to increase student achievement.

The District’s 2008 API score is 697, which is a 2 point decline from 2007, but there has been a growth of 49 points since 2004. The district did not meet AYP standards in 2008, but met 19 out of 26 AYP criteria.

The Fillmore High School (FHS) API went up 13 points to 691. FHS’s CAHSEE (Exit Exam) scores have been gradually increasing. Graduation rates have increased over the past three years, and Dropout rates have decreased. Forty-four percent of incoming Freshmen at are reading at or below a 6th grade level, according to the Accelerated Reader (AR) Program’s test results. AR is not a standardized test. The English department is developing an intervention plan, and reading classes are in place. FHS’s intervention plan includes working with FMS to improve reading, and using double block classes to improve Algebra performance.

The Fillmore Middle School (FMS) API went down 18 points: from 719 to 701. FMS’s intervention plan includes: “implementation of a rotating schedule including an advisory period where students that need remediation can get it during the school day,” and “support and training for staff in the area of using and analyzing data on an ongoing basis.”

Mountain Vista (MV) Elementary School’s API went up 9 points to 712. MV’s intervention plan includes improving teacher collaboration and tying grades to actual progress. They believe their success came from collaboration and Response to Intervention (RTI). Programs that helped were: REACH, Horizons, and Waterford/Success Maker.
San Cayetano (SC) Elementary School’s API is 704, which is a 14 point dip from 2007. Since 2004, SC has had steady growth with an overall gain of 25 points. SC’s intervention plan includes teacher collaboration. According to the report, teachers are “pulling individual student scores and plan to meet monthly to revise and adjust student intervention needs.” CONTINUED »

 


 
Two eastbound tractor-trailers were involved in a rear-end collision at Hwy. 126 and E Street.
Two eastbound tractor-trailers were involved in a rear-end collision at Hwy. 126 and E Street.
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One fully-loaded gravel truck failed to stop for another truck making a right turn on E Street.
One fully-loaded gravel truck failed to stop for another truck making a right turn on E Street.
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FILLMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT
VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

MEDIA RELEASE

BOB BROOKS, Sheriff
Captain Tim Hagel, Acting Police Chief

www.VCSD.org

Nature of Incident: Sketch of Suspect from Attempted Burglary / Criminal Threats Case
Location: 100 Lora Lane, Fillmore, California 93015
Date & Time/ RB#: September 10, 2008 080024564
Unit Responsible: Special Services - Major Crimes Unit

Suspect:
Hispanic, male, 5’10”, medium build, mid-twenties, dark complexion with a mole on the right side of his face. Last seen wearing a black baseball cap, and a black t-shirt with white lettering or emblem on the backside. The suspect spoke English.

Narrative:
On Wednesday, September 10, 2008, at about 11:15 A.M., Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 100 Block of Lora Lane, Fillmore, to a report of a male who attempted to force entry into a residence and threatened the adult female inside. When deputies arrived, they discovered the suspect, who was not known to the victim, had already fled the scene.

According to the victim, she was home alone at about 11:10 a.m., when the suspect came to her front door and knocked. The victim opened the door believing it was a visitor. The suspect yelled at the victim that he was going to kill her and tried to force open the door as the victim fought back to close it. The victim was able to force the door closed and lock it, at which time the suspect fled from the residence on foot. Deputies conducted an extensive search of the neighborhood and surrounding area for the suspect but were unable to locate him.

Two other incidents, which have occurred recently in the same neighborhood, may be related. The public is warned to always be aware of their surroundings when walking and to keep the doors and windows to their residences secured and to not open the door to strangers.

Sheriff’s major crimes detectives are investigating this incident and have attached a sketch of the suspect.

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at (805) 524-0970 (Fillmore) or Fillmore Police at 805-524-2233

Officer Preparing Release: Detective Taurino Almazan / (805) 524-2233

Follow-up Contact: Fillmore Police 805-524-2233

Date of Release: September 11, 2008

Approved By: Captain Tim Hagel

 


 
2004 Fillmore High School grad Phillip Diaz is aboard the USS guided-missile destroyer McFaul in the Black Sea. The McFaul was the first US warship to bring aid to Georgia following the Russian attack on that small
nation. IT2 Diaz has been in the Navy for nearly 3 years, and has traveled both to the Middle East and Mediterranean. The McFaul is anchored in the port of Batumi, Georgia, in close proximity to the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, Ukraine. The Georgian flag can be seen at port near the USS McFaul.
2004 Fillmore High School grad Phillip Diaz is aboard the USS guided-missile destroyer McFaul in the Black Sea. The McFaul was the first US warship to bring aid to Georgia following the Russian attack on that small nation. IT2 Diaz has been in the Navy for nearly 3 years, and has traveled both to the Middle East and Mediterranean. The McFaul is anchored in the port of Batumi, Georgia, in close proximity to the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, Ukraine. The Georgian flag can be seen at port near the USS McFaul.
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Phillip Diaz with shipmates.
Phillip Diaz with shipmates.
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USS McFaul in Georgia.
USS McFaul in Georgia.
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2004 Fillmore High School graduate Phillip Diaz, is getting a firsthand view of U.S. humanitarian aid efforts in Georgia. United States Navy Information Technician 2nd Class Phillip C. Diaz, 22, is aboard the USS McFaul, which pulled into the port of Batumi, Georgia, Sunday, August 24th, in the Black Sea. The guided-missile destroyer was the first U.S. warship to bring aid to Georgia and was loaded with nearly 55 tons of supplies; bottled water, baby wipes, baby food, blankets and more and anchored in the port of Batumi, Georgia. The USS McFaul’s arrival puts the U.S. Navy in close proximity to Russia’s Black Sea fleet based in the Ukranian port of Sevastopol. The McFaul is the first Navy ship to arrive in the Black Sea with aid relief. The USS Mount Whitney and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas have also been sent to assist. The relief is needed after Russian troops occupied parts of Georgia for nearly two weeks following Georgia's Aug. 7 attack to retake South Ossetia.

IT2 Diaz has been in the Navy for nearly three years and has had one deployment to the Middle East and now to the Mediterranean on a routine cruise. IT2 Diaz began his five-month deployment to the Mediterranean in May of this year and was originally scheduled to return to his home port the end of October, or early November but all return plans have been put on hold. The USS McFaul is home-ported in Norfolk, Va., delivered 82 pallets of supplies donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The USS McFaul was in the eastern Mediterranean when it got the call to divert to Georgia. The ship first pulled into Souda Bay, Crete, where it was loaded with supplies, then sailed to the Black Sea.

IT2 Diaz’s parents are Richard and Carolyn Diaz, both of Fillmore. "We are very proud of Phillip for serving his country and doing what he's doing. We always tell him we are so proud of what he's doing in the emails we send him and in the satellite phone conversations we have. Phillip recently told me that he feels good to be helping out people that need our help. Phillip cannot say much over the phone, or in emails, but generally tells me to watch and read the news to find out what he is doing. I do that and it makes me nervous to think he is there in harms way, but I always remind him to follow his training, his command officers and to use good judgment. I know if he does that he and his shipmates will be fine.” said his father Richard.