April 13th Public Hearing to Discuss the Collection of Residential Wastewater Service Charges via the Ventura County Secured Tax Roll
On February 9, 2021 City Council was presented with a Department Report on the Collection of Residential Wastewater Service Charges on the Ventura County Property Tax Roll. City Council unanimously approved to continue the discussion at a Public Hearing, scheduled to take place on April 13, 2021. A copy of the report can be found by clicking HERE.
The preliminary list of parcels affected by this potential change in billing method can be found by clicking HERE.
Questions and Answers:
Q. Are my rates increasing?
A. No. This is not a rate increase.
Q. If this is approved, what would change?
A. The City of Thousand Oaks would no longer issue residential wastewater service bills and would bill for wastewater services on an annual basis (July 1st through June 30th) as part of the Ventura County property tax bill, versus six bi-monthly bills per year. This would be a separate line item charge on your tax bill.
Q. Why would the City consider this?
A. Cost-savings. Collecting residential wastewater charges on the secured property tax roll would result in a significant cost-savings for the City. The City’s wastewater utility billing expenses could be reduced by an estimated $72,500 per year (postage and materials), as well as reduce an additional 3,000 hours of staff time per year spent processing the bills and performing account maintenance. This savings would allow staff to begin analyzing the feasibility of moving from bi-monthly to monthly water billing which will help in the City’s overall water conservation efforts. Also, customers requesting City services or customer service would also realize increased productivity and customer response time by staff.
Q. How would I know if there were a rate increase?
A. Pursuant to the California Constitution Article XIIID (also known as “Proposition 218”), the City is required to notify property owners of proposed changes to property-related fees such as water and wastewater services. Any proposed changes to utility rates would follow legal requirements; including property owner notifications.
Q. What do I need to do?
A. Please continue to pay your current bill for wastewater service to the City. If approved, effective July 1, 2021, wastewater charges would arrive via the annual property tax bill. Property owners who pay property taxes through two annual installments, would pay wastewater fees in December and in April. The wastewater charges would cover service from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.
Property owners that pay property taxes through an impound account may need to adjust their monthly payments to cover wastewater charges. If you pay your property tax bill through an escrow account, and this is approved, you would need to contact your bank / mortgage account holder to withhold enough funds to cover the wastewater services added to the property tax bill. Single-family residential customers, based inside City limits pay $59.90 bi-monthly/$359.40 per year. Outside-City single-family customers pay $60.52 bi-monthly/$363.12 per year.
Q. I’m planning on selling my home after July 1st, how do I notify the City to stop my wastewater service charges?
A. Single-family residential customers would not need to contact the City to start or stop wastewater service. This would happen automatically when a change of ownership is recorded with the County. The division and credit of any tax bill payments, including the future wastewater fees, is part of the process already conducted during the final calculation of escrow fees.
Q. Isn't the wastewater service charge actually a tax on my property?
A. No. Article 13D of the California Constitution (Proposition 218, passed by initiative in November 1996) differentiates between taxes, assessments, and property related fees. Proposition 218 provides that the charge imposed for wastewater is a “fee” rather than a “tax.” State law allows fees to be shown on property tax bills and collected with property taxes.
Q. How would this affect my renters?
A. Property owners would collect wastewater charges directly from renters, as warranted through rental agreements.
Q. If I haven’t paid my wastewater bill due to being affected by COVID-19, will my previous balance be transferred to the tax roll?
A. All wastewater bills with service charges prior to June 30, 2021 would still need to be paid to the City; however, to help ease any potential immediate financial burden that customers may experience as a result of COVID-19, the City has suspended penalty practices at this time. Customers with accounts in arrears are encouraged to contact the City's Finance department at 805-449-2201 to discuss a payment plan.
For more information, please contact us at 805-449-2201 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.