by Res Publica
Decisions made by past and present City Councils led to Ventura Water increasing water rates by 7% and wastewater rates by 6% for each year over the next four years. In truth, water rates for the “average” ratepayer will increase by 43% during that time.
IF YOU DON’T PROTEST, YOU VOTE “YES” AUTOMATICALLY
Ventura is obliged under Proposition 218 to allow ratepayers to protest the rate increases. Yet, Ventura Water doesn’t make it easy to do so. The protest form is intentionally challenging to locate. In the 8-page Ventura Water ‘Proposed Rate Adjustments’ document https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/26577/Final-Ventura-Prop-218-Notice?bidId=, Ventura Water buries the protest procedure on the last page. It is not bolded or highlighted to stand out to the reader. The protest format is not user-friendly. There is little explanation on how to complete the form, making it confusing to property owners.
If you oppose this increase, Ventura Water’s notice states that the parcel owner, or customer of record on the water bill, must file a written protest with the City Clerk at City Hall.
WHERE TO GET YOUR PROTEST FORM
The City did not enclose a protest form with the rate increase notice. Instead, the brochure directs you to go online. You can find the Water Shortage Rate Protest form here https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/26577/Final-Ventura-Prop-218-Notice?bidId=. You can complete the form online, but you must print it for it to count.
Written protests may be submitted by mail to the Ventura City Clerk’s Office at 501 Poli Street (Room 204) Ventura, California 93001, or in person at the drop box near the back entrance of City Hall at 501 Poli Street, Ventura, California 93001 (parking lot behind City Hall). All mailed written protests must be received (not postmarked) by the City Clerk no later than May 17, 2021, at 5:00 pm.
To prevent the rate increase, most property owners (51%) must file a protest. Renters have no right to protest. Business owners have no right to protest. Only the 32,000 people that own property with water meters have a right to vote. The remaining 81,000 people in the City of Ventura are effectively disenfranchised. They have no vote but will have to pay.
WHY IS VENTURA DOING THIS?
Ventura Water plans to build a $240 million wastewater treatment plant that will duplicate facilities that already exist near Ventura. The 2019 Corollo Report (commissioned by Ventura Water), titled Ventura Water Supply Projects and Alternatives https://ca-ventura.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/18399/2019-Ventura-Water-Supply-Projects-Final-EIR, states that if Ventura Water utilizes the United Water Conservation and the Oxnard Water Treatment Plant, they would not need to build a separate treatment plant. The cost savings to Ventura ratepayers could be enormous.
The ‘lack of control and trust’ Ventura Water purports to be why it’s not cooperating with other water agencies is absurd. It’s already working with several other agencies and depends upon many other outside agencies for water resources.
If we continue down this path, Ventura ratepayers will pay more than may be needed. Ventura Water has put the price tag on “control” and “trust.” It’s $200 million
The Ventura City Council should:
Call for an accurate, independent, cost analysis that could result in potential savings of $200 million
Delay any rate increase to Wastewater rates
Direct the City attorney to apply for a deadline extension on the Wishtoyo Consent Agreement to provide more time to find the optimal solution while avoiding substantial legal penalties
Open negations with United Water and the City of Oxnard to utilize a wastewater treatment process.
Our current path is misguided and needs reevaluation. Making a financial decision based on “trust and control” is not in the public’s best interest.