Former Oxnard Finance Director cites $400,000+ in assessment district overcharges

 

ColumnLogo-1By Phil Molina

We have already identified that 2 districts within West Village have huge math errors to the point that over 200 homes are due refunds exceeding $2,000 from the City for the overcharges. Now we also found that an entire assessment district was not formed in a correct/legal manner as required by our State’s  Constitution. Specifically the “engineers” report for Landscape Lighting Assessment district #31 was NOT prepared by a registered engineer certified by the State of California, according to the City of Oxnard documents provided by Mr. Nyhoff’s office staff at our request. See below.

Therefore, Landscape Lighting Assessment District #31 is in violation of California State Constitution and is null and void. They City needs to fix that problem immediately otherwise it must stop collecting annual assessments, and return all the money it has collected from us.

Since Proposition #218 was approved by voters , which did the following:

 

In November 1996, California voters passed Proposition 218, the “Right to Vote onProp218

Taxes Act”. This constitutional amendment protects taxpayers by limiting the

methods by which local governments can create or increase taxes, fees and

charges without taxpayer consent. Proposition 218 requires voter approval prior to

imposition or increase of general taxes, assessments, and certain user fees.

 

California Constitution ARTICLE XIII C requires, nay, demands that the engineer’s report for assessment fees/taxes must be prepared by a “registered engineer”. This took affect in  1995, which is prior to the establishment of any Landscape Lighting Assessment District in West Village.

We must insist on a meeting with the City Manager immediately to make the city correct all those problems we have found in the West Village Assessment Districts. Please let me know if I have missed anything or made a erroneous comment.

Respectfully,

Phillip Molina

 

Law citation:

ARTICLE XIII D

SECTION 1. Application. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this article shall apply to all assessments, fees and charges, whether imposed pursuant to state statute or local government charter authority. Nothing in this article or Article XIII C shall be construed to:

(a) Provide any new authority to any agency to impose a tax, assessment, fee, or charge.

(b) Affect existing laws relating to the imposition of fees or charges as a condition of property development.

(c) Affect existing laws relating to the imposition of timber yield taxes.

SEC. 2. Definitions. As used in this article:

(a) ”Agency” means any local government as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII C.

(b) ”Assessment” means any levy or charge upon real property by an agency for a special benefit conferred upon the real property. ”Assessment” includes, but is not limited to, ”special assessment,” ”benefit assessment,” ”maintenance assessment” and ”special assessment tax.”

(c) ”Capital cost” means the cost of acquisition, installation, construction, reconstruction, or replacement of a permanent public improvement by an agency.

(d) ”District” means an area determined by an agency to contain all parcels which will receive a special benefit from a proposed public improvement or property-related service.

(e) ”Fee” or ”charge” means any levy other than an ad valorem tax, a special tax, or an assessment, imposed by an agency upon a parcel or upon a person as an incident of property ownership, including a user fee or charge for a property related service.

(f) ”Maintenance and operation expenses” means the cost of rent, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, fuel, power, electrical current, care, and supervision necessary to properly operate and maintain a permanent public improvement.

(g) ”Property ownership” shall be deemed to include tenancies of real property where tenants are directly liable to pay the assessment, fee, or charge in question.

(h) ”Property-related service” means a public service having a direct relationship to property ownership.

(i) ”Special benefit” means a particular and distinct benefit over and above general benefits conferred on real property located in the district or to the public at large. General enhancement of property value does not constitute ”special benefit.”

SEC. 3. Property Taxes, Assessments, Fees and Charges Limited. (a) No tax, assessment, fee, or charge shall be assessed by any agency upon any parcel of property or upon any person as an incident of property ownership except:

(1) The ad valorem property tax imposed pursuant to Article XIII and Article XIII A.

(2) Any special tax receiving a two-thirds vote pursuant to Section 4 of Article XIII A.

(3) Assessments as provided by this article.

(4) Fees or charges for property related services as provided by this article.

(b) For purposes of this article, fees for the provision of electrical or gas service shall not be deemed charges or fees imposed as an incident of property ownership.

SEC. 4. Procedures and Requirements for All Assessments. (a) An agency which proposes to levy an assessment shall identify all parcels which will have a special benefit conferred upon them and upon which an assessment will be imposed. The proportionate special benefit derived by each identified parcel shall be determined in relationship to the entirety of the capital cost of a public improvement, the maintenance and operation expenses of a public improvement, or the cost of the property related service being provided. No assessment shall be imposed on any parcel which exceeds the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on that parcel. Only special benefits are assessable, and an agency shall separate the general benefits from the special benefits conferred on a parcel. Parcels within a district that are owned or used by any agency, the State of California or the United States shall not be exempt from assessment unless the agency can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that those publicly owned parcels in fact receive no special benefit.

(b) All assessments shall be supported by a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California.

(c) The amount of the proposed assessment for each identified parcel shall be calculated and the record owner of each parcel shall be given written notice by mail of the proposed assessment, the total amount thereof chargeable to the entire district, the amount chargeable to the owner’s particular parcel, the duration of the payments, the reason for the assessment and the basis upon which the amount of the proposed assessment was calculated, together with the date, time, and location of a public hearing on the proposed assessment. Each notice shall also include, in a conspicuous place thereon, a summary of the procedures applicable to the completion, return, and tabulation of the ballots required pursuant to subdivision (d), including a disclosure statement that the existence of a majority protest, as defined in subdivision (e), will result in the assessment not being imposed.

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

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