Perusing the topics I found a "A Q&A: "Understanding the City's water fund transfer". It sounded pretty honest until I got to this part:
Q: I have heard the City’s water franchise fee described as “illegal,” is this true?
Cities are entitled to recover all of their costs for utility services through their water service fees, including costs provided by the General Fund in support of the water utility. The City has determined, however, that it is appropriate to identify and quantify rather than estimate the direct charges that should be assessed to the Water Fund for the use of City-owned property and facilities in support of water system operations. The City engaged an independent rate consultant for this purpose.As you might expect, I take issue with the answer.
First, the city did NOT determine that it is appropriate to identify and quantify rather than estimate the direct charges that should be assessed to the Water fund. No, it was the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and California Courts that determined activities similar to those practiced by City Hall were illegal.
Second, it is absurd to think that Municipal & Financial Services, Inc. is an independent consultant. This is the same firm that conducted the Rate Study last year and who told the Water Rate Study Ad Hoc committee that we shouldn't ask questions about the franchise fee because we''l be "opening a can of worms." I'm confident that M&FS did exactly what they were hired to do: justify as much of the transfer as they could articulate.
So, while the City chooses to dance around the subject and smooth over the problem with distractions, I'll answer the question... YES, THE FRANCHISE FEE IS ILLEGAL AND IT IS STILL IN PRACTICE IN FULLERTON.
On a "minor" side note, the City also incorrectly tells us that we can only bring up the issue when it is on the City Council Agenda:
Does the public have any say?This is another piece of bad or erroneous information. The public may speak to the City Council about anything within the Council's purview, such as water rates, rebates, and franchise fees even if the issue is not on the agenda. This is what the PUBLIC COMMENTS section of the City Council meeting is reserved for. You have a legal right to speak before your elected representatives whom serve you.
Yes, members of the public may speak at Ad Hoc Water Rate Study Committee and City Council meetings when the item is agenized. They may also write letters to the City Council.
There are a few other topics in this issue of Focus On Fullerton which I take issue with and will bring up before the City Council tonight. The meeting starts at 6:30PM with several presentations and proclamations.