Opponents of Oxnard utility rate hike collect ballot signatures in only 2 weeks

By George Miller

Aaron Starr, leader of the Moving Oxnard Forward (MOF) civic activist group is determined to stop what he says are excessive aggregate 67% utility rate hikes which the City of Oxnard tried to ram through in February. At that time, he secured about 5000 resident/ratepayer protests and motivated hundreds to come to a City hearing, which intimidated the council sufficiently to stop two of the three utility hikes, for water and solid waste services. But the Council dug its heels in on the wastewater increase, which was needed to prevent running the reserves out in mere months and depleting the fund, an unthinkable eventuality.

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But Starr protested, filing a voter initiative to bypass the council and stop it. The Council fought back to prevent that, spending a bundle on legal fees instead of negotiating. Starr inflicted multiple humiliating defeats on the City attorney’s effort, including a court order forcing them to clear the ballot language. Meanwhile, MOF wasn’t actually able to start collecting the needed 1430 signatures until early May, with a May 20 deadline. Well, they amassed an army of 61 volunteers and actually obtained 3947 signatures, which they plunked down on the City Clerk’s counter almost right under my nose last night- see video:

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Now this will be on the November ballot. If the initiative passes, then the increase, all of it, will be rolled back, theoretically to be refunded to ratepayers. (NOTE: Starr informed us that The impact of the initiative passing would be prospective, not retroactive). Oxnard  can be expected to fight that, too, because it would quickly bankrupt the fund reserves, according to data the City previously provided to CitizensJournal.us. It would leave it without adequate funding for debt service, vital projects, operating expenses and rebuilding of reserves. Starr is likely expecting some sort of negotiated settlement by then, which might consist of a reprioritization of projects, timing and rate setting- or something altogethter different. By then, the City’s Finance Department might actually be more confident of the financial status of the Wastewater Division.  The City has not been able to get its books straight and still hasn’t been able to complete last year’s audit or CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), which are months and months late.

 

Here is the MOF press release:

OXNARD CITY HALL IS IN SHOCK!!!

Tonight’s announcement at the Oxnard City Council meeting was the culmination of a long series of events going back to late last year, when the city first announced its intentions to raise utility rates.

Even with the city’s shameful and baseless lawsuit against us costing us five precious weeks of time, we pressed ahead and did what so many said could not be done.

But we knew better.

With the help of 61 volunteers, we collected 3,947 signatures in just 16 days — far greater than the 1,430 valid signatures needed to qualify us for the ballot in November.

We shall promptly submit those signatures to the City Clerk to begin the validation process. With this initiative qualified for the ballot, the voters should have the opportunity to vote to repeal Oxnard’s excessive 87% wastewater (sewer) rate increase.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make this possible.

And thank you to those who were at City Hall tonight on such short notice to participate in our victory lap.

There is still more work to do.

Our next step is to vigorously defend against the City’s underhanded lawsuit, which seeks to deny all of us the right to vote on this measure or to have it declared illegal after we the voters adopt it.

We shall win this battle.

No one should doubt our resolve!

Aaron Starr, President
Moving Oxnard Forward


Links to previous relevant articles:

https://citizensjournal.us/?x=0&y=0&s=wastewater


George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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