With the smell of new carpeting fresh in the air and the occasional electrician or painter still wandering through, County Supervisor Frank Schillo has moved into his new office in the Civic Arts Plaza.
While the move itself was without fanfare, the office has been criticized by some who charge that, with the county facing a $38-million budget deficit, now is not the time to move Schillo into a luxurious new facility that will cost the county $10,000 a year more than his predecessor’s cost.
On Thursday, though, Schillo argued that the additional space and expense were a means of bringing better county services to his constituents in Thousand Oaks and elsewhere in eastern Ventura County.
“The citizens here deserve to have the services,” he said. “I could find a place to go and hide for the next four years, but that’s not my style.”
He said the additional space--590 square feet more than his predecessor’s, for a total of 1,800 square feet--will be used by the county’s mental health department, drunk-driver rehabilitation program and, eventually, the county recorder.
As a result, he said, people will no longer have to drive 60 miles round-trip to Ventura or 30 miles round-trip to the Simi Valley Courthouse to do business with the county.
The California Highway Patrol is already holding office hours in the space for residents who have questions about tickets or accidents.
Schillo moved in July 17 but isn’t planning a grand opening until his staff gets settled in. He also said the summer would not be a good time for an open house because many people are on vacation.
The City Council voted in January to lease the space to Schillo, and the Board of Supervisors approved the lease in February over the objections of Supervisor Susan K. Lacey, who said the $3,053-a-month, 45-month lease sent the public the wrong message in a time of widespread government cost-cutting.
The space was not ready in May when Schillo had planned to move in, so he spent a month and a half in temporary quarters that were quickly dubbed the “Schillo Shack.”
Schillo said he could work anywhere, but aide Julian Macdonald pronounced himself “extremely happy” to be in new quarters.
“It’s been a long time in coming,” he said.
The office is nice, but by no means opulent--the decor is mostly government-issue functional.
Schillo’s new digs are not without some classy touches, however. There is the location--just to the left of the busy main entrance to the Civic Arts Plaza. There is the sign on the door--the supervisor’s name in gold leaf on a background that looks like green marble.
And there is the color scheme--green carpeting, mauve walls.
“It’s not cold. This has a warmth and a friendliness to it,” Macdonald said.