In January of 2016, the Oxnard City Council tried to raise your trash utility rates by 23%, as part of their plan to increase rates for all three utilities. They argued that these rate hikes were critical for financial health and public safety reasons. Of course, the City Council always believes that extracting more money from the public is the solution to addressing every problem.
The trash rate increase passed on a first reading (January 19), but failed on a second reading (January 26) only because you helped us mount a massive public protest. Since then, trash rates have only increased by 1%.
Yet somehow, without that rate increase, the trash utility is thriving today!! They’re now paying cash for things they were previously planning to do with bond debt.
In the final moments of the May 15, 2018 city council meeting, Mayor Flynn applauded the current financial condition of the trash utility because they now have a $20 million reserve fund. That’s 50% of their annual operating expenses, well above the amount set by council policy as a goal.
How did that happen without the rate increase that they said was so necessary two years ago??
Todd Housley (Oxnard’s Environmental Resources Manager) explained that they were just finding ways to run the utility more efficiently. Imagine that. In the business world you can’t just raise your prices and expect to keep customers. Instead, you find ways to do more with less. Mr. Housley deserves praise for taking a more business approach to providing services at lower cost. Perhaps the city should have Mr. Housley examine the water and wastewater operations to see whether he can help there, too.
Because the public pushed back, we forced the city to seek out management solutions, rather than just taking more money out of our wallets. We think they should have done that BEFORE they asked us to absorb a rate increase.