Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 1:42 am | Fair 55º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Ron Fink: Lompoc Councilman Jim Mosby May Have Negatives But Should Do Well

Jim Mosby didn’t appoint himself to the Lompoc City Council. From all outward appearances, two of his old friends engineered the appointment. But let’s look at Mosby not as a controversial appointment, but rather from the perspective of what to expect in the next two years.

Mosby has one issue that has been festering for the last year or so: He is known locally for his efforts to operate a private recreation facility in the county and currently has a lawsuit pending against the county concerning the Board of Supervisors' denial of a permit to operate the same recreation facility.

I asked him about this and he said that neither the city nor county was able to accommodate all of the recreational needs in Lompoc, so he took it upon himself to offer part of his property as a recreational venue. He says he received county parks verbal approval to operate it because of its “benefit to the public.”

The other issue seems to be a perception that he was very close to ousted Mayor John Linn and that somehow this association would have an influence on his decision-making process.

He told me that while Linn was mayor he supported his efforts, but now that Bob Lingl is mayor he intends to give him the same level of support for his agenda. We’ll see how this plays out as time passes.

When Linn was elected mayor in 2010, Mosby was chosen to take the reins of the Lompoc Valley Park & Recreation Pool Foundation by its members.

He found that it needed help. Records were disorganized, and there didn’t seem to be any coherent leadership team. Mosby changed all this, donated office space he owned and established bank accounts so that the various committees could be autonomous and have a place to meet and store their records.

He reorganized the foundation leadership and established proven decision-making policies that were practiced by other successful nonprofit groups.

Mosby is also a parks commissioner for the county. His biggest concern is how the available funds are allocated and the enormous backlog of maintenance at parks facilities. He says the county parks budget is about $13 million a year; $10 million is allocated to the south county and the remainder to the north.

With the help of county staff he was able to get some monies redirected to provide restrooms accessible for the disabled at Miguelito Park, soon provide a bike/foot path to Lookout Point and perform some long-overdue maintenance at Ocean Park.

Mosby also served as an appointee to the Lompoc Utility Commission. He does his homework and has taken in-depth tours of all of the enterprise fund facilities that are under the prevue of the commission. He asks a lot of probing questions.

What he discovered was that much-needed revenue wasn’t being collected because the city couldn’t account for all of the services that were being provided. He questions why user rates were raised before a full accounting was complete.

One example was the solid waste division where they are supposed to charge users for each trash container that they use at their home or businesses. When an audit was performed, the city found that fees for many containers weren’t being collected. The city is in the process of resolving this and many other enterprise fund revenue issues.

Mosby has attended all but a couple of council meetings for the last four years, remaining there long into the night — something very few people would have the patience for. So, he should be well informed.

I asked him what he hoped to accomplish in the next couple of years. The budget hearings will start in a couple of months, so naturally the budget was on his mind. He is a strong advocate for what’s known as a “zero based budget,” meaning that each department starts with no funds and must fully justify each request.

I have observed budget hearings for the last two decades, and it appears that the approach has always been “well, we used this amount last time, so let’s just increase it a few percent.” This is a poor approach to fiscal management and I believe that he will find that the other council members will be in agreement that there is a better way to manage tax dollars.

Concerning the budget there is a steep hill to climb, and his priorities are public safety staffing and effective use of available monies even if it means some serious changes to how funds are allocated.

So, Mosby may have a couple of negatives, but on balance I think that he could become an asset to the City Council and the people of Lompoc.

If he approaches his council appointment with the same level of enthusiasm he had for his other appointments then he should perform well. If he doesn’t, well, there is an election in a couple of years and people will be the judge of his efforts as they are with all other elected officials.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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