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OXNARD | West Ventura County Focus

Free Utilities Ended for Parks Department

May 08, 1997|LORENZA MUNOZ

After four years of receiving free utility services, city officials have decided to discontinue providing free water, refuse and sewer services to Oxnard's parks department.

The decision comes as the 1997-98 budget details are ironed out.

In 1993 the council approved the subsidies, saying that the parks budget was being slashed and that the entire city enjoyed use of the parks.

But, now city officials fear they were violating the terms of a 1991 bond agreement, which specifically prohibits free water service, so city finance director Stan Kleinman recommended that the parks department pay its own bills.

"I don't see it as a huge deal, because the bonds are not in danger of not getting repaid," said Kleinman. But, he added, the city should abide by its agreements.

In addition, the free services were not popular among the three departments that had to absorb the costs.

Rather than have those utility bills paid from the city's parks budget or the general fund, the refuse, water and sewage departments paid for those services, leaving them with less money for their own departments.

The parks department's water bill usually ran up to $150,000 to $250,000 a year, according to Buddy Valencerina, the city's water superintendent.

The refuse department paid between $80,000 to $90,000 a year in parks costs, and the sewer department covered about $20,000. Grace Hoffman, the city's budget coordinator, said they are still working out the details on whether the money to pay for the parks utility usage should come from the parks department budget or the city's general fund.

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