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Police chief’s employment contract approved by City Council

WHITTIER — Newly-appointed Chief of Police Aviv Bar will earn about $224,000 annually, according to the terms of an employment contract ratified by the City Council on Tuesday. 

Bar, who became police chief Oct. 13, will earn a monthly salary of $18,678. His compensation package is consistent with previous police chief Jeff Piper, with one exception: Bar’s severance provision was reduced from 12 months to six months in the event of termination without cause by the city. 

Other terms of Bar’s employment contract include: 

Annual cost of living adjustments “or benefit modifications consistent with those afforded to Department Heads.” 

Incentive pay for education or POST certificates

Whittier will pay Bar’s contribution rate (9%) towards his retirement fund

Bar will receive a vehicle that can be used for work and “incidental personal use” within 75 miles of his workplace or home. 

Bar will accrue vacation time at a rate of 192 hours per year. 

Bar is a 25-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department. His swearing-in ceremony was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed to Nov. 10. 

Memorial Wall

A proposal to install a memorial honoring Vietnam War veteran and advocate Jose Ramos was temporarily delayed as council members grappled with where to install the monument. 

Ramos enlisted in the U.S. Army while only a sophomore in high school. He earned a Purple Heart after he was wounded while serving in Vietnam. 

He later founded the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans organization and rode his bicycle from Whittier to Washington, D.C. to advocate for Vietnam veterans who were unfairly treated upon returning home. 

Ramos died of pancreatic cancer in 2017. With help from Rep. Linda Sanchez, the Michigan Park post office was named in his honor. 

In 2018, the Whittier City Council voted to create a memorial in Ramos’ honor. The proposed monument wall stands 4 feet tall and is 10 feet long; the glazed tile sculpture honors Ramos and Vietnam veterans. 

Whittier’s Art in Public Places Committee recommended placing the wall at Central Park but council members weren’t so sure. 

“It looks out of place to me at Central Park,” said Councilmember Jessica Martinez. 

Mayor Pro Tem Henry Bouchot suggested the monument would be appropriate along the Greenway Trail. Other possibilities include Michigan Park, Palm Park, or possibly the post office that was named in Ramos’ honor. 

The council decided to delay a decision until Nov. 10, when they will be joined by Mayor Joe Vinatieri, who was absent Tuesday. 


Budget Update

Whittier’s financial health is better than expected, according to a first quarter budget analysis presented to the City Council on Tuesday. 

A review of Whittier’s finances revealed a projected surplus of $632,433, according to a staff report prepared by Monica Lo, director of administrative services. 

City officials had projected a general fund deficit of $2.629 million as of June 30. 

“However, a variety of revenue sources, including sales tax, transient occupancy tax, building related fees, and lease revenues all exceeded projections,” Lo wrote in the report. 

Whittier will also realize salary and benefit cost savings of $741,718, Lo added.

A big worry for budget analysts was the pandemic’s effect on consumer spending. Specifically, Whittier officials worried the city could lose up to $571,000 due to the state’s emergency taxpayer deferral program for small businesses. 

However, the actual loss this past fiscal year was only $152,477, “meaning that substantially fewer small businesses in Whittier elected to take a sales tax deferral,” Lo wrote. 

Not everything is rosey, however. Lo cautioned that “given the increasing retirement costs for the foreseeable future, there remains the need to closely monitor expenditures and programs to ensure that a balanced budget can be attained in future years.” 

Whittier’s general reserve balance stands at $33.3 million, plus an additional $4.7 million in a PERS reserve. PERS is the retirement system for California’s public employees. 


Surplus Vehicles

Council members authorized the sale of eight surplus vehicles to be sold at public auction. 

The excess vehicles include a: 

1998 Toyota Camry

2010 Ford Edge

1975 Ford C-800

2007 Sterling SC8000 street sweeper

2006 Smithco G-Star field groomer

And three 2008 Ford F-250 pickup trucks

Whittier generally donates its surplus equipment and supplies to local non-profit organizations. The condition of these vehicles, however, were rated “poor, very poor, and non-operational,” making them unsuitable for donation, officials said. 

The city estimates that the vehicles will fetch about $37,000 at public auction. 


Conservancy Donation

The Whittier Conservancy donated $8,000 for the city to plant trees at various locations throughout Whittier. 

The conservancy has donated funds for tree planting projects since 1997. 

The donation will be used to purchase and plant trees of various sizes and species at multiple locations. Planting will take place this winter. 


Liquor License

A Whittier restaurant was granted a conditional use permit to sell beer and wine. 

Tlayudiza El Anafre Restaurante, located at 12556 Lambert Rd., had its request for a Type 41 liquor license unanimously approved by the Planning Commission on Oct. 5. 

The City Council reviewed the decision Tuesday and took no action. 

Tlayudiza El Anafre Restaurante is a fast-casual Mexican restaurant with an emphasis on Oaxacan cuisine. The restaurant opened in the Lambert Square Shopping Center in 2019. 

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