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…
It was bad enough when the city 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.
At first, City Hall seemed to get the message, proposing a more reasonable rate increase of roughly 25% to 41% at the November 29 city council meeting. It wasn't great, but at least we were heading in the right direction. That all changed just a few weeks later.
For the last three weeks we have been attending meetings of the Oxnard Utility Ratepayers Advisory Panel (URAP), a citizens panel to review a new proposed wastewater rate structure and make recommendations. At each meeting we requested the city's rate model and the draft cost of service study. At each meeting we were told we would eventually see this information at the February 8 meeting. Well, "Eventually" appears to have turned into "Never." On February 8 we were told that we would not be given those details.
Now, barely a day before the last scheduled meeting, city staff are proposing several rate-hike choices ranging from 56% to as much as a massive 96% sewer rate increase from last February. This is the first time we have even been shown these proposals, and they expect the panel to make a decision with almost no time to process the information.
Assistant City Manager Ruth Osuna authored a series of rate increase proposals, which at first glance appear to be as much as a 45.5% increase. But read the fine print ... those proposed increases are on top of the 35% increase already implemented less than one year ago. Compounded, that works out to 96.5%.
The final decision as to what rates will be recommended by the URAP has been postponed one week until February 22. The meeting starting at 6:00 p.m. will be at:
Oxnard Performing Arts Center, Ventura Room
800 Hobson Way, Oxnard, CA 93030