Council Starts 74% Sewer Rate Hike; Snubs Citizen Panel

“It’s déjà vu all over again.”  -- Yogi Berra

Last week, the Oxnard City Council started the process to raise our wastewater rates again. That process, which involves mailing out notices to residents and a 45-day protest period, will culminate in a public hearing on May 16.

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URAP Proposes 74% Wastewater Rate Increase

Last week, a bare majority of the Utility Ratepayers Advisory Panel (URAP) embraced a recommendation by city staff that the Oxnard City Council raise your sewer bill by a whopping 74%.

The plan calls for 5.25% increases for each of the next five years on top of the 35% increase already implemented last year. Compounded, that works out to over 74%.

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Is Oxnard Unlawfully Skimming Revenues from Utilities?

When a city nearly doubles its utility rates and sues the political opposition, it’s time to take a hard look at how the utility is spending its money.

When we studied the finances of Oxnard’s wastewater utility, one giant red flag was an expense called the Infrastructure Use Fee (IUF).  Oxnard charges this fee to each of its three utilities, and the combined $7 million goes to the general fund to pay for city services other than the cost of those utilities.  This type of scheme has been declared by courts to be a violation of the state constitution as amended by Proposition 218.

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Oxnard's New Sewer Rate Scheme Revealed

After intense public pressure, city staff – finally! – agreed to release the secret rate model being used to develop new wastewater rates … or so it seemed.  They sent it after the close of business … on a Friday evening … before a three day holiday weekend … and it was locked down with passwords to prevent anyone from being able to generate their own what-if scenarios.

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Don't like the 87% increase? Try 96% instead!

This week we finally learned what wastewater rate increase City Hall wants to recommend.

One proposal is a rate increase of over 96%!

So much for their claim that they had listened to you…

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Steering the City Council with False Information

With the recent release of Oxnard’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year 15/16, it became apparent that the city management had previously given the city council and the public some grossly incorrect information during its campaign against Measure M.

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A Process Fit for a Sewer System?

We need your help again.

As we all know, the city had enacted an outrageous 87% wastewater rate increase in January of 2016. You helped us fight back, and together we qualified Measure M for the ballot to repeal the rate increase and make the city try again to be more reasonable. Measure M won overwhelmingly, and now the city must try again to set rates that cover their actual costs ... but don’t abuse the ratepayers.

Please attend a very important meeting on February 1, starting at 6:00 pm at:

Oxnard Performing Arts Center, Ventura Room
800 Hobson Way, Oxnard, CA 93030

Here’s what’s going on.

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Tentative Trial Date Scheduled

Today we were back before Judge Rocky Baio to schedule a trial for the City of Oxnard's lawsuit against Measure M, which 72% of Oxnard voters adopted in November to repeal an excessive 87% wastewater rate increase.

The judge has tentatively scheduled the trial for late June, 2017.

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The Plot Thickens

Interesting developments in Oxnard's wastewater rate saga...

As you might recall, on December 8 Judge Rocky Baio granted the City of Oxnard’s request for a temporary restraining order on Measure M, our initiative that rejected the City’s 87% sewer rate increase. In effect, the judge hit the pause button on Measure M’s reduction of rates until this matter goes to trial, at which time the judge can decide who is right.

Because the judge is keeping the law from going into effect ... at least for the time being ... the city was scheduled to implement their next 10% increase effective January 1 (on top of the 35% increase already imposed on us last March).

In the meantime, there’s much happening behind the scenes.

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Oxnard Starts New Wastewater Rate Setting Process

Though the City of Oxnard still stubbornly pursues the lawsuit seeking to have Measure M declared illegal, even they have now realized the need to do something else besides just bet on winning in court.  The city council has now directed their employees to start again the process of setting new wastewater rates.  Time will tell whether they will actually listen to what the voters said.

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