TO Council Adopts User Fees — Increases Legal Budget to Fight Cal-Am Water

By Kevin Harris

COUNCIL ADOPTS USER FEES AND INCREASES LEGAL BUDGET IN FIGHT AGAINST CAL-AM WATER AT TUESDAYS MEETING

The City Council approved a resolution adopting the 2017 User Fees and Assessments during Tuesday’s meeting, just before authorizing an additional $60,000 for legal services in its ongoing lawsuit against Cal-Am Water over its proposed water rate increase. The city’s annual Conejo Valley Days was also announced during the session.

Item 8A

This was a Public Hearing, and was presented by Finance Director, John Adams. Adams explained that the last time the Council reviewed local user fees was in April, 2015 (per normal procedure. Such reviews are typically done every two years). He also clarified that whatever fees are adopted at the present hearing will go into effect on July 1, 2017.

Also during the hearing, it was made clear that fees are not taxes, in that fees can only be collected by the city to recoup to actual cost of the services, whether those services go to private interests (building contractors, private home owners) or to the public (police services). While confirming these facts with Adams, Council Member Al Adam managed to explain it quite well.

“The city, by law, can not charge anything more than what it cost to deliver those services. Anything beyond that would be a tax, and we don’t do it,” he said. Adam also pointed out that some departments don’t even collect the full amount of their costs, such as the Planning Department. So, according to Al Adam, Thousand Oaks homeowners who are remodeling their houses, for example, actually benefit from that fact.

Council Member Al Adam

One public speaker, Nick Quidwai, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens of Thousand Oaks, chimed in with a suggestion. “There should be comparisons of these user fees in graphic form, going back 5, 10, even 15 years, made available to citizens,” he said. John Adams responded positively to Quidwai’s suggestion, and said he would try to implement graphical comparisons to the website in the future.

The resolution adopting the user fees was adopted unanimously, minus Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Fox, who was absent for the night.

Item 9A

This was a Department Report presented by Public Works Director Jay Spurgin. It focused on the progress being made with respect to the ongoing legal battle between Thousand Oaks, and California American Water, over that company’s proposed dramatic water rate increase. It also outlined the need for an additional $60,000 in funds to effectively continue the lawsuit.

Spurgin reminded the Council that the proposed water rate increase for Thousand Oaks will equate to a 40%+ increase, which works out to a more than $4 million annual increase for local residents (plus more for local government and industry). But he assured the Council that the outside lawyers they hired have already made a difference and had some success, by breaking the news that Cal Am Water just asked them to settle the case. While that discussion between the lawyers and Cal Am Water has not taken place yet, Spurgin said that by law, he can only discuss the details that he has with Council in Closed Session at this point (which was to take place at the end of tonight’s meeting).

But he then asked the Council to approve of an additional $60,000 to continue with the lawsuit (bringing the total to $160,000). He explained that numerous last minute flights and courtroom appearances were raising the financial requirements.

The Council voted unanimously to authorize the additional funds.

Public Works Director Jay Spurgin

Item 5

Earlier in the meeting, during the “Special Presentations and Announcements,” Frank Akrey, of Thousand Oaks, announced the upcoming Conejo Valley Days, from May 11-14, 2017. Mr. Akrey, who was a passionate and entertaining spokesperson for the event, told the Council that this year, it will be a non-profit event. He also mentioned that there will be some big name entertainment, such as the band “Ambrosia,” and that there will be $20 wristband nights for the carnival ride portion.

Frank Akrey

Conejo Valley Days started in June, 1956. For more information, please go to http://www.conejovalleydays.us.

The next City Council Meeting will be Tuesday, May 9, 2017, at 6:00 PM, at an offsite location – The Grant R. Brimhall Library. 1401 E. Janss Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362. To watch the City Council meeting online, go to: http://www.toaks.org/departments/city-manager-s-office/public-information-office/totv/watch-videos. Then scroll down to “available archives” and click on “city council.”  The meeting agenda is available at http://71.165.173.179/government//depts/city_clerk/granicus_to_laserfiche.asp?Page=http://71.165.173.179/WebLinkPublic/0/doc/1216911/Page1.aspx/depts/city_clerk/granicus_to_laserfiche.asp.


Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also a Realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks 

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One Response to TO Council Adopts User Fees — Increases Legal Budget to Fight Cal-Am Water

  1. Barry Gabrielson May 2, 2017 at 10:57 am

    California American Water Colludes with CPUC/ORA, represents this Monopolies increases, does not represent the Consumers. Every dollar it wastes, it earns 8.41% ROI. They are rewarded to waste more money, on Capital, on high salaries, more employees, materials, overruns, etc. This has nothing to do with supply and demand on water. They get a guaranteed profit and revenue, regardless of water supply. For example, if we have 100″ of rain here in Thousand Oaks this year, CAW would have rate letters into the CPUC. Consumers would not need to water their lawns, fill their pools, commercial business use less water, etc. The less me use is an excuse to get increases in rates, to compliment their guaranteed revenue and profits. So when we have less water, they raise rates to continue their guaranteed revenue. When we have too much water, they raise rates to cover their lost guaranteed revenue. Its all about this companies bottom line, has nothing to do with water improvement, system improvements, value added Capital expense etc. They make up expenses, get more revenue, like Conservation, Purchase Water to two Municipalities, Balancing Accounts like when renters or a business that dont pay their bills, they get to bill those who pay their bills. They hire people (100K a year) to tell you to conserve water, Millions of dollars in Turf Removal Programs, you pay for all others to remove their own lawns, Materials sent to your home that you throw away, materials (sprayers, other), you and I pay for them, not CAW. The more they waste, the more they make. CPUC/ORA are their partner, Governor Picks the Water Boards and CPUC to collude with this Monopoly, to raise your rates, more money to the government in tax revenue, redistribution of wealth from you to them. Monopoly provides the favor back in campaign contributions, Crony Capitalism, collusion to stick it to you and I for unjustified rate increases.

    Reply

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