Oxnard mismanagement of “assessment districts” causes furor

Problems may not be unique to Oxnard

By George Miller

Oxnard’s West Village Neighborhood Council met to complain, scope out and plan response to problems with assessment districts in their neighborhood. Mike Gleason, Phil Molina, Phil Durante, Nancy Kobashigawa, Jann Correll and others were present, including a CitizensJournal.us reporter.

OxnardAssessmentDistMapo

Map of current Oxnard Assessment Districts.

Larger map than above: oxnard maps of assessment distScan0079

Over the years, there have been disputes about landscaping and other city of Oxnard assessments for services. There are 66  districts established for management and financing of services to neighborhoods, ranging from simple grass mowing and bush trimming to much more expensive waterways maintenance, police boat patrols and seawall maintenance (an estimated $60 million needed for just for the latter).

In recent months, several things have occurred:

– Neighborhood Council groups have complained at city council  meetings about poor service, hazards of untrimmed trees, assessment amounts.

– Repeated requests for tree trimming went unaddressed, so people started digging deeper.

– An independent fiscal review of the city’s finances cited deficits in about half of the assessment districts, totalling over $3 million. The city’s solution to that was to transfer the money from the general fund and borrow $16 million from Measure “O” funds which were to be used for public safety-related projects, for that and other shortfalls.

– It seems that there are overlapping boundaries in some districts, some areas have no districts at all and are simply paid for from the General Fund (doesn’t seem equitable), some districts were not lawfully certified by engineers.

– We have been told, at that meeting and by public speakers at past city council meetings, that invoices arrive not specifying what work was done, when and where it was done, how many people worked and what hours were expended.  This would make it problematical to determine which district to charge, for what statement of work/bid and whether work was being done within budget.

 

The group resolved to present a demand letter to the City Council and City Manager at the Tuesday,10-6-15 council meeting, outlining their grievances on their assessment districts’ financing, bookkeeping, certification, management and deficient services.  They will demand responses and remedial services by a deadline to be established at that time.

 

Added 10-6-15 from 10-6 City Council agenda:

L. REPORTS
City Manager Department
1. SUBJECT: Maintenance Assessment District Overview. (183)
RECOMMENDATION: Receive a report on proposed solutions and timelines for maintenance assessment districts.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Maria Hurtado Phone: 385-7430 Utilities Department

 

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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