Our Reply to VCStar Editorial on Measure M

Earlier this year Oxnard residents rallied to help us qualify an initiative for the ballot which, if adopted, would repeal the city's excessive 87% wastewater (sewer) rate increase.  The effort was successful, and the initiative is now on the November 8 ballot as Measure M.  Remember to vote YES to pay LESS!

On October 20, the Ventura County Star editorial board published an opinion piece urging a "no" vote on Measure M.  The editorial board incorrectly called Measure M a referendum, though it is an initiative.  (A referendum would switch the meaning of the yes/no votes.)  They also mistakenly claim that Moving Oxnard Forward was created just to oppose the rate hikes.  We existed prior to the rate increases, and we were actively working on other ideas for improving our city when this issue arose.

We look forward to the VCStar publishing our response shown below:

 Oxnard Residents Support Measure M
By Aaron Starr

The Ventura County Star’s misguided editorial opposing Measure M and endorsing the Oxnard City Council’s 87% sewer rate increase demonstrates a serious disconnect with the financial realities of middle class and poor Oxnard families.

Two years ago, the city’s professional staff stated that a rate hike of only 6% would “ensure that revenues are adequate to fund daily operations and required maintenance, and to meet debt service coverage and operating reserve requirements.” Instead of accepting this modest rate proposal, city hall politicians brought in an outside consultant (at an exorbitant cost exceeding $4 million) who ratcheted up the city’s proposed sewer rate hike from 6% to 87%!

Even the VC Star admits that city leaders were “heavy handed” in imposing their rate hike without adequate consideration for the concerns of Oxnard residents. Oxnard is a middle class community and many residents who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford an 87% jump in their annual sewer bill. To add insult to injury, the city’s leaders are piling on with their plans to increase our water and garbage rates shortly after the election.

A small sampling of the many factors that make this rate increase excessive are the double-compounding of inflation rates, 7.5% annual pay rate increases for labor, cost shifting financial burdens from other utilities to sewer rate payers, and the general fund’s practice of raiding the utility funds by charging them for road maintenance and police protection.

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the Star’s editorial was its failure to mention the fact that nearly 4,000 residents — of all political viewpoints — signed our petitions to quality Measure M for the ballot in ONLY 16 days. As the author of Measure M, I applaud the people of Oxnard for this astonishing example of swift community action. Unfortunately, the tax-happy editorialists at the VC Star chose to ignore the concerns of these residents.

Recent evidence indicates strong voter support for Measure M. A poll commissioned by our campaign just this week shows Measure M passing by a margin of nearly 20% — with strong bipartisan voter appeal across all community lines.

The voters of Oxnard understand that supporting Measure M is about repealing an excessive and unfair rate increase. Contrary to the VC Star’s nonsensical rambling about “minimalist” government, most of those who signed our petitions support a REASONABLE sewer rate to maintain our wastewater system — such as the 6% rate hike originally proposed by city staff.

Measure M is an example of residents taking back our community from leaders who don’t listen and don’t respect our concerns. Our message on Measure M is simple: Vote YES to Pay LESS.

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