We have a development to report since our last update.
As you know, the Ventura County Superior Court ordered Oxnard City Hall to reduce your utility rates by June 16 by the amount of the Infrastructure Use Fee (“IUF”) – an embedded charge that Judge Matthew Guasco described as “illegal and unreasonable” – and to report back by July 31 that it had done so.
Predictably, the City did not reduce utility rates … and did not report back to the court ... it simply defied the court order.
But suddenly – only after we scheduled a court hearing to address their noncompliance – the City begrudgingly filed a report with the court on Tuesday. So, what’s the City’s reported excuse to the court for not having yet reduced utility rates?
Well, to paraphrase the words of Teen Talk Barbie, “Math is hard!”
Funny! The math wasn’t hard when the City decided to charge the illegal IUF ... which increases people’s utility rates. It’s only hard now that the City has been ordered to cease the illegal charge and reduce rates. So, I guess addition is easy and subtraction is difficult?
The City claims it plans to reduce rates ... but doesn’t tell the court WHEN it will actually reduce rates!
Then there is the matter of issuing partial refunds to ratepayers. In the City’s filing, it also claims its intention to refund to ratepayers more than $7 million in overcharges from January 2020 to August 2021. (Doing so would avoid our otherwise inevitable class action lawsuit for ratepayer refunds.)
If the City actually DOES issue these refunds, then the average ratepayer should see a credit on their utility bills for September.
Of course, if Oxnard City Hall was actually committed to holding themselves accountable, it would refund to ratepayers the entire $36.5 million worth of illegal charges going back to 2014 – which averages over $900 per ratepayer – rather than hide behind a one-year statute of limitations for refunds.
Do you deserve the entire refund … or just a partial one?