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Cerritos, Downey, Signal Hill WRD Lawsuit Goes to Trial

Judge rules Cities have a right to a WRD refund
 

The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles has ruled the Cities of Cerritos, Downey and Signal Hill have a legal right to a refund from the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) for illegally collected taxes. Judge Ralph W. Dau issued a ruling on December 11, 2012 denying WRD’s argument that the Cities do not have a right to a refund of replenishment assessments WRD collected in violation of Proposition 218.

Cerritos, Downey and Signal Hill filed a lawsuit against WRD to protest replenishment assessments that WRD implemented in 2007. In April, 2011 the court found that WRD violated Proposition 218 when it levied water replenishment assessments against the Cities without allowing protests or conducting any cost-benefit analysis to ensure proportionality. The Cities claim a refund is due to them, because WRD had no legal authority to collect fees when WRD failed to comply in any way with Proposition 218.

The WRD replenishes the ground water in the subterranean aquifer underlying the three Cities (and others cities in Southeast Los Angeles County). The three Cities supply drinking water to local residents and businesses. Residents and local businesses pay for nearly all costs the Cities incur to provide water service and WRD’s replenishment assessment constitutes nearly 40 percent of each consumer’s water bill.

Because of the significant impact of WRD’s Replenishment Assessment on their residents’ water bills, the Cities have complained that the WRD’s rate increase of 200 percent over the last five years is excessive and illegal. It is estimated that the average residential water bill has increased by $40 per month due to the illegal assessment.

The Cities’ case against WRD will proceed to trial to determine the amount of the refund owed to the Cities by WRD. On February 7, 2013, the Court will hold a case management conference at which it is likely to set a trial date.

WRD Ruling-Dec12.rtf