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County on track to meet greenhouse gas reductions

Ventura County is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from county operations to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, county supervisors were told Tuesday.

“The county is on target, not taking into account any other expansion,” Deputy Executive Officer Sue Hughes said after a one-hour presentation to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors by managers of county departments. The board set the goal in 2011.

The county is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through energy-efficiency projects such as using LED lights and having employees drive the county’s more energy-efficient vehicles, including electric and hybrid cars, when doing county business, Hughes said.

Another key to reducing the county’s emissions is solar energy projects, Hughes said. More than 4,600 solar panels were unveiled in October at the Todd Road Jail just outside Santa Paula. The county Department of Airports, meanwhile, is studying possible solar projects at the Camarillo and Oxnard airports, said Airports Manager Jorge Rubio.

“If you’re really looking at getting to our goal, if you don’t do solar, you don’t get there,” said Paul Grossgold, director of the county’s General Services Agency.

Earlier Tuesday, the board elected Supervisor Steve Bennett to succeed Peter Foy as its 2014 chairman and picked Supervisor Kathy Long its vice chairwoman. Bennett was elected to the board in 2000, and this is his third one-year stint as chairman.

“I’m happy to have a great board of supervisors to work with,” he said afterward.

In another action, the board opened a public hearing on a proposed new labor contract with the Ventura Employees Association, which represents about 150 county appraisers, engineers, surveyors, geologists, hydrologists and auditors. The public can comment on the proposed agreement for the next two weeks. If adopted by the board at its Jan. 28 meeting, the three-year contract would give the employees their first salary increase since 2009.

The proposed agreement calls for a 1 percent increase in the salary range of each job classification and a possible 1 percent market-based adjustment in November. A 3 percent increase would take effect in November 2015. Benefits also would increase.

The proposed agreement “will provide and address pension reform, enhance transparency in the compensation structure, preserve current service levels to the public and assist in the county’s efforts to recruit and retain a skilled workforce through competitive wages,” Catherine Rodriguez, the county’s labor relations director, wrote in a memo to the board. ___

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