Consultant says Oxnard bulk water users undercharged at the expense of consumers

By Phil Molina

Editors’ note: Several activists have disputed Oxnard’s water rate structure, claiming that bulk users (agricultural, commercial and Prop218industrial) are charged lower rates than consumers and that this is illegal, per CA Proposition 218. A consultant seemed to be in agreement with them at the last Utilities Rate Review Committee, as Mr. Molina referred to it (it is actually the Utilities Rates Advisory Panel, [URAP]) meeting this week. If this is so, it would have an unplanned, unfavorable effect on businesses, with unknown consequences. So the city will need to figure out how to deal with the situation. The letter that follows summarizes Mr. Molina’s initial  take on the situation:

 

Wed, Sep 9, 2015 

​Mr. Mayor, Elected Council Members,  Friends, and City Manager:
 

Carollo Engineers put on a very detailed presentation for the utilities rate review committee this evening. Mr. Hugh Steve McDonald presented most of the material. Steve informed us that he has 2 Master Degrees in Engineering and has participated in numerous other utility projects around the State.

deardorff.farmToward the end of the meeting I asked Steve if the water that goes to the local restaurant, farm, commercial business or my home was treated any differently. Steve acknowledged, “no the cost of treating the potable water for Oxnard residents, business, and industry was treated to the same high quality level”.  I followed that question with another question. Why then are the variable rates for residential users higher than variable rates for commercial, industrial, and agriculture? Steve said the variable rates should not be different, but must be the same according to Prop 218 and the recent Fresno litigation.

Mr. Mayor unless staff can product detailed cost analysis showing Steve was wrong,  what Steve said, which was being recorded and can be replayed, Oxnard needs to change the water rate structure immediately so that variable rates are the same regardless of type of user. Fixed rates, however, will vary based on the cost of meter size, and water line size if bigger meters, larger water pipe diameters are needed for commercial, industrial and agriculture than for residential users.

Please establish the variable rate correction immediately. This should save residential users a substantial amount on their water bills.

Respectfully,
Phillip Molina
 

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Phil Molina is an Oxnard resident, former Oxnard Finance Director and “whistleblower,” who exposed alleged corruption, and was fired. He sued and won a large award, after many years of litigation.

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