OXNARD : Plan to Streamline City Agendas Delayed

The Oxnard City Council has delayed action on a proposal to streamline agendas by granting staff members authority now reserved for council members.

The absence of Councilman Michael A. Plisky, who is out of town at a tax consulting conference, prompted Mayor Manuel M. Lopez to request that consideration of the plan be delayed Tuesday.

"On matters of importance, it's only proper that the entire council be present," Lopez said.

A task force made up of city employees recommended that the council delegate a variety of responsibilities to the city manager and other department heads to speed up meetings, shorten agendas and save staff time.

Among other things, staff would be allowed to negotiate land deals, administer personnel changes and approve salary and benefits packages without the specific approval of the City Council.

Managers also would be allowed to approve fee waivers, new street names, lease renewals and service agreements and to award bids under a certain amount.

The task force recommendation drew criticism from one Oxnard resident, former Mayor Jane Tolmach.

"Putting more government decisions behind closed doors invites corruption," Tolmach said. "These matters need the scrutiny of the taxpayers."

Lopez asked that the item be tabled for one week, but City Manager Thomas Frutchey suggested a lengthier delay because of the bulk of matters already scheduled for next Tuesday's meeting.

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