Oxnard – The Finance and Governance Committee approved the Master’s fee schedule on Tuesday, April 26.
The committee received an overview of the development of a master’s fee schedule, the basis for future phases of the project.
Introducing the point on behalf of the Master Fee Schedule Committee, Policy Records & Property Manager Beth Ward said the Master Fee Committee was set up in June 2021 by the Office of the City Manager, which then selected five mid-level managerial members to join the committee.
“The city has been given the arduous task of finding and creating a coherent document of all citywide fees and fines,” she said. “Additionally, we were asked to help develop best practices to maintain updated processes.”
She said it provides transparency to provide the city’s fees for all departments in one document.
“Revenue is an important aspect of a city’s ability to provide and maintain the highest possible level of service to all who live, work and play in its communities,” she said. “Income comes in many forms, such as B. Taxes, including property, sales or use taxes, bonds, leases, and rates, fees, fines and duties. This ensures the financial sustainability of the city.”
She said this project is focused on service fees, and utility and development fees have been located and attached for reference.
“Fines and fees that are regulated by the state were also included in the city’s general master fee schedule for continuity, but were not part of the work of this committee,” Ward said. “As regulated fines and fees change, the master fee table will be updated.”
She said fees charged for services provided by the city should not exceed the reasonable cost of providing that service and that a careful review of current fees with detailed procedures for developing and documenting changes must be in place before Changes are accepted or implemented.
“This project has multiple goals and benefits,” she said. “Transparency is important to Oxnard residents. At this time, it is difficult to find or verify the city’s fee schedule or the methodology used to set those fees. Fees have not been systematically updated or regularly reviewed and there is currently no consistent process that all departments follow.”
She said if the city proceeds without implementing an organized method of tracking fines and fees or adjusting market increases for the services provided, it will not be able to recoup associated costs, to the detriment of the city’s budget.
“Phase one is currently underway, and for many months the committee has met weekly to develop best practices for creating an overall master rate plan for the City of Oxnard,” she said. “Working closely with the City Attorney’s Office, the committee identified and reviewed all service charges, Proposition 218-related charges, AB 1600, development impact charges, bail schedule fines and other charges developed by city ordinances, by resolution have been adopted or specified by government regulation”.
Ward said the committee combined the data and created a comprehensive spreadsheet to list all of the City of Oxnard’s current fees and fines.
“As this phase is nearing completion, we recommend that the council adopt a combined master fee schedule for all existing fees,” she said.
Phase two is underway, and she said this compares the city’s fees to other cities with similar criteria to the City of Oxnard, such as: B. City size, population and square miles.
“Oxnard is a full-service city,” she said. “City age, demographics, and salary index were also studied for these nearby cities. The selected comparison cities include Glendale, Modesto, Fremont, Chula Vista and Ventura. The current master fee tables for each of these benchmark cities were collected and compared to the Oxnard fees, noting both differences and similarities between the fees.”
She said the committee recommends hiring a consultant to review and update the master’s fee table.
“The advisor can use the Master Fee Schedule Committee’s established framework to recommend updates and how best to make those changes in a phased manner,” Ward said.
Phase three will be implementation, she said, and one of the main goals of the review is to make the fee structure more understandable for all parties.
“As a result, in addition to reviewing existing fee amounts, the city also wants the consultant to review fee structures themselves to ensure developers, residents and members of the public can clearly see and understand what fees might be applicable to their given project,” she said. “Maintaining an annual process to review and update the master fee schedule will help ensure transparency and a better understanding of the city’s current fees and fines.”
She said that the master’s fee table will be updated under the supervision of the advisors.
“At this point, the Council will be asked to rescind all previously adopted fee schedules and adopt the updated Oxnard Master fee schedule,” she said. “It is the city’s goal to have a well-documented and defensible plan that establishes billable service reimbursement rates that address compliance requirements under Proposition 26, Proposition 218, and other applicable statutory requirements.”
She said the measure currently has no tax implications, but funding for the second phase will be sought in the 2022-2023 budget.
Committee member Gabe Teran asked Assistant City Manager Ashley Golden to summarize the point, and she thanked Ward and the rest of the team for preparing the report.
“They are wonderful teammates who put all this hard work into this report, and the main purpose of the report is to develop a high-level overview of a master’s fee table,” she said. “This is where all the charges that we have on the books are summed up in one comprehensive document and you saw how long that document was. This is the first phase of a multi-phase project.”
Teran said Phase Two is a fee study and the intention of Phase Two is to examine applicable fees that are reasonable for the level of service and the cost of providing that service.
“If it stays the same, great, but if it needs to be adjusted, we would,” he said. “The appendix is quite a lengthy document and many thanks to the team for putting it together.”
Teran hopes that eventually the document will be searchable for the public and they can find a fee.
Golden said that’s a possible outcome.
“Step one is to get this together in one place and it will be part of an appendix to your budget document,” she said.
Presiding Mayor John Zaragoza thanked the Master Fee Committee for working diligently to put together such a comprehensive report.
“One of the things that will be important is that the fees will be comparable to other types of cities and the types of services that we will offer,” he said.
Golden said the intention behind comparing services to other cities is to get a measure.
“We’ve done this recently with DIF fees, but ultimately the fee is set by the service provider and the cost of providing that service,” she said. “A lot of this is for the educational component with the city and also to give the council a framework when you make those decisions. You can set the fee lower than the cost, or you can implement it over time, so these comparable cities will help you understand how to get there, but there are many differences, which is why you’ll need someone to help you examine how these fees develop and what goes into them. It’s difficult to be one on one with another city; Even if you are the exact same height and age you may have something different as they are a consulting service city and we are a full service city. All of these things go into the cost, but they give you a good framework to look at.”