What didn’t happen at Oxnard Council is more important than what did

Assessment districts, enormous utility rate increases, dropped from agenda at 10:30 PM

By George Miller

What was NOT addressed at the Tuesday, October 6 Oxnard Council meeting was likely more important than what was. Issues with tens of millions of dollars impact went unaddressed.

Dozens of people came to the meeting to hear/talk about the multi (3)-million dollar assessment district fiasco and the high-stakes discussion over huge utility rate increases. But, at about 10:30 pm, it was announced by City Manager Greg Nyhoff and approved by the Council, that there was insufficient time to discuss these.

Instead they spent much of the evening deliberating  about two highly controversial, but less consequential high density new housing development projects in South Oxnard (to be covered in a separate article). This agenda sleight of hand went over like a lead balloon with the long-waiting residents/stakeholders. Mike Gleason, the Neighborhood Council President who did more than most to surface this issue, was very displeased.

Both housing projects were approved over the strenuous objections of most speakers and the Mayor, with profound misgivings by other Councilmembers who were intimidated by the threat of legal action,

 

Assessment Districts

OxnardAssessmentDistMapo

Oxnard Assessment districts

“Assessment districts” were set up to manage certain services, such as common areas landscaping, tree trimming, waterway maintenance, debris removal and more, performed by the city for the benefit of Oxnard’s 18 “neighborhoods.” To make a long story short, about half of the 66 districts had deficits totalling over $3 million. This was paid off via borrowing from the public-safety-oriented “Measure O” funding, via the General Fund.  

Accounting and delivery of services for the district sounds questionable, given what we have heard at City Council and Neighborhood Council meetings.  Nyhoff assured us that this is being addressed and referred us to the presentation materials unaddressed at the meeting. No follow-up session was proposed or set. Given all the problems Nyhof inherited it would not be surprising if he hasn’t solved them in his only 15 months tenure, but people are not at all happy how this one has been handled. Councilman Bert Perello later described it to me as “just blowing it off.” He also said he had requested Mayor Flynn to cover these first. 

This is what was supposed to be discussed:

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

 

Utility Rate increases

Utility rates will have to increase vastly because of significant city deferred maintenance and previous failure to keep pace with growth of demand for water (along with future supply uncertainty), wastewater and solid waste facilities and equipment. just how much has been outlined in meeting documents previously released.

OxnardWaterDept

It has been apparent for a long time that utility plants and equipment for water, wastewater and solid waste processing are superannuated and inadequate for future needs, as well as becoming increasingly unmaintainable. After City Manager Greg Nyhoff took over, operational and fiscal audits she initiated coped out most of the extent of that. City staff says we need at least $600 million for wastewater systems and a quarter of a billion dollars more for water systems. Much of the water needs are related to the super-expensive so-called “GREAT” water recycling project, which is just beginning to deliver results after a decade long $200+ million dollar investment and many technical and operational hiccups along the way. We haven’t seen final quantification of solid waster needs yet. 

A residents’ task force to study utility rates and their drivers and make recommendations has credibly questioned rate allocation among residential vs business customers, as well as the true financial state of the various utility enterprise funds. See CitizensJournal.us articles on these.

This is now scheduled to be covered at the 10-13-15 Council  meeting- see below:

From agenda:

Utilities Department
1. SUBJECT: Proposed Comprehensive Five-Year Utilities Rate Increases. (059)
RECOMMENDATION: 1) Review and provide direction on recommendations including: utility vision and guiding principles statements; utility rate policy; utility capital improvement program (CIP); and utility rate structure; 2) Review and provide direction on implementation of rate increases for the Water, Wastewater, and Environmental Resources Enterprises. The proposed rate increase for Wastewater is 35% for Fiscal Year 2015-16, 10% for Fiscal Year 2016-17, 8% for Fiscal Year 2017-18, 8% for Fiscal Year 2018-19, and 8% for Fiscal Year 2019-20. The proposed rate increase for Water is 15% for Fiscal Year 2015-16, 12% for Fiscal Year 2016-17, 8% for Fiscal Year 2017- 18, 8% for Fiscal Year 2018-19, and 8% for Fiscal Year 2019-20. The proposed rate increase for Environmental Resources is 6% for Fiscal Year 2015-16, 4% for Fiscal Year 2016-17, 4% for Fiscal Year 2017-18, 4% for Fiscal Year 2018-19, and 3% for Fiscal Year 2019-20; and 3) Authorize staff to proceed with the Proposition 218 public notification process.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Daniel Rydberg Phone: 385-8055
Advertisement- 740 South B Street, Oxnard, (805) 486-6878

Advertisement- 740 South B Street, Oxnard, (805) 486-6878

Previous articles:

Oxnard mismanagement of “assessment districts” causes furor

Oxnard mismanagement of “assessment districts” causes furor

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. Larger map than above: oxnard maps of assessment distScan0079 Over the years, there have been disputes […]

Oxnard utility rates to go sky-high?

Oxnard utility rates to go sky-high?By George Miller For years, the Oxnard utilities staff has been warning us about shrinking water supplies, higher costs, extensive deferred maintenance, obsolescence and expanding demand for water, wastewater and stormwater services. These services are probably as important to the health and safety of residents as are the police and fire departments. After one year of […]

Oxnard Holds Utility Rates Workshops

Oxnard Holds Utility Rates WorkshopsBy Dan Pinedo In anticipation of utilities rates increases the city of Oxnard has created a Utilities Rates Advisory Panel, (URAP). The panel is made up of 8 members representing the community from three categories: Business/Industrial, Single Family Residential and Multi-Family Residential. There are 5 alternates. Under the direction of Interim Utilities Director Daniel Rydberg […]

Former Oxnard Finance Director points out inequitable utility rates

Former Oxnard Finance Director points out inequitable utility ratesBy Phil Molina Editor’s note: We published this letter from Mr. Molina to Oxnard officials and “friends”  just  as we received it. Friends, Mayor, Councilpersons and staff:   How much do you like Oxnard?  How fairly, equitably and justly do you feel Oxnard treats you? Do you like subsidizing the poor? Do you like paying […]

What didn’t happen at Oxnard Council is more important than what did

What didn’t happen at Oxnard Council is more important than what didBy George Miller What was NOT addressed at the Tuesday, October 6 Oxnard Council meeting was likely more important than what was. Issues with tens of millions of dollars impact went unaddressed. Dozens of people came to the meeting to hear/talk about the multi (3)-million dollar assessment district fiasco and the high-stakes discussion over huge utility rate […]

Oxnard utility increase proposals overstated?

Oxnard utility increase proposals overstated?By Phil Molina Concerning the proposed rate increase for solid waste, aka environmental services, the data are insufficient to determine whether it really requires a rate increase at this time. Below you will see the summary chart of 5 years’ audited statements and  two graphics showing that the total revenues and operating expenditures have not yet […]

Oxnard municipal financial expert disputes proposed utility charges

Oxnard municipal financial expert disputes proposed utility chargesBy Phil Molina ​Friends, Elected Officials, Fellow Oxnard utility users: We must not allow this attempt to violate your Proposition 218 and the Appellate Court decisions in order for the City Manager to make good on his promise to the business community to protect them from the required equitable water rate increases. You may feel […]

Oxnard Council- coastal plan update funding, gang prevention program, budget

Oxnard Council- coastal plan update funding, gang prevention program, budgetBy George Miller Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video City Council Meeting September 15, 2015 06h 06m Agenda Minutes Video Coastal Plan The Council approved up to $383,358 for Rincon Consultants for preparation of the Comprehensive Local Coastal Program update. It was mentioned that Planner Chris Williamson, who has been critical to the city’s efforts here, […]

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

Consultant says Oxnard bulk water users undercharged at the expense of consumersBy Phil Molina Editors’ note: Several activists have disputed Oxnard’s water rate structure, claiming that bulk users (agricultural, commercial and industrial) 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 […]

Local Oxnard accountant-activist makes utility rate/policy recommendations

Local Oxnard accountant-activist makes utility rate/policy recommendationsBy Lawrence P. Stein Editor’s note: The new Oxnard Utilities Rates Advisory Panel, (URAP) has created quite a bit of healthy discussion. Even though he previously predicted a trebling of utility rates, he believes that consumers are being outrageously overcharged for water to support what he feels is an overly expensive,inefficient GREAT water recycling program and […]

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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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One Response to What didn’t happen at Oxnard Council is more important than what did

  1. Steven Nash October 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Re “Oxnard mismanagement of “assessment districts” causes furor” . . .

    As a member of the Utility Ratepayers Advisory Panel, my current understanding is that the URAP members will not be solicited for ideas, recommendations or “advice”. During the course of the four previous meetings we were deluged with a data dump from staff and offered power point presentations that outlined the City’s intentions based on what the paid consultants had come up with.

    It was a process that wasted the time of many community members and squandered precious staff resources. The decision to raise utility rates has always been and always will be at the sole discretion of the city council. Public input not welcome.

    There are still many impediments to true civic engagement here in Oxnard.

    Reply

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