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Yuba City City Council Exploring Community Choice Power Aggregate

“YC council OKs 2024/25 budget; City council exploring community choice power aggregate”

By Michaela Harris / mharris@appealdemocrat.com

The Yuba City City Council adopted the city’s operating budget for fiscal year 2024/25 on Tuesday.

Yuba City’s total revenue for the upcoming fiscal year is $56.3 million, a decrease of nearly $4 million compared to fiscal year 2023/24. The largest share of the city’s General Fund will be allocated to public safety, with 35% going toward the Yuba City Police Department and 27% going to city fire services.

Yuba City Finance Director Spencer Morrison said that Yuba City is expecting a surplus of around $2.7 million in unused reserves by the end of the current fiscal year, which will be transferred to the General Fund to close future deficits.

According to the budget, Yuba City expects to earn nearly $10 million in current property taxes for 2024/25, as well as $17.5 million in sale and use taxes. 

Morrison recommended a series of year-end transfers prior to the start of the new fiscal year, which were previously discussed during a budget workshop on June 4. This includes water and wastewater working capital to ensure that the Water Fund and the Wastewater Fund have a 90-day working capital balance by June 30. Working capital beyond the 90-day requirement will be transferred to a capital improvement fund for future utility rehabilitation and replacement projects, the city said.

The city Finance Department also recommended an additional discretionary payment of $500,000 from the city’s Pension Stabilization Trust to CalPERS. The share from other funds would total $325,000 for water, wastewater, fleet, and SASA departmental expenditures, or $825,000 in total additional discretionary payments.

The city council approved the 2024/25 budget in a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Marc Boomgaarden voting against. During the June 4 Yuba City City Council meeting, Boomgaarden expressed concern over providing funding for services or activities that are not conducive to essential services like public safety, roads and water. He specifically referenced Yuba City’s partnership with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, which as Boomgaarden put it, has failed to prove a return on investment for the city. At least $27,000 will ultimately be paid to the Economic Council this year, he said. 

“We have invested with (Greater Sacramento Economic Council) for eight years, and I have seen nothing coming from them. They claim things but can’t substantiate them. We’re also a member of the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation, which is a very similar organization. For me, this is a duplicate expense. Why are we spending something in Sacramento that I know we’re not getting help from when we already have a local agency that’s providing the same level of information?” Boomgaarden told the Appeal. “Over the last eight years, we’ve spent something like $217,000 with them, and I can’t point to anything that they’ve done. … At the end of the day, if I’m going to spend city residents’ money, I want to know I’m spending it on something that’s going to be returned for their use.”

Boomgaarden also called attention to Yuba City’s push for a revenue measure that will likely go to voters in November and how the list of expenditures could impact voters’ trust in the city’s financial responsibility.

“As we embark on this journey of asking our residents to consider taxing themselves – we can call it a revenue measure; we can call it a tax – it’s imperative to me that we spend wisely. … I respect consensus and I respect the fact that I may be within the minority here, but there are some things in this budget that I would not spend money on personally nor would I have spent money on any business that I had the opportunity or privilege of running,” Boomgaarden said on Tuesday. “I’m suggesting this budget is frivolous by any matter, but it does contain things that I feel are highly, highly questionable.”

Revenue ad hoc

Since December 2022, Yuba City has explored the possibility of a revenue measure to address the city’s public safety and infrastructure needs. During Tuesday’s meeting, the city council established tasks and objectives for a Citizens’ Oversight Committee for the potential measure. 

This group will work as an advisory committee to the city council to review revenue and expenditures, should the measure pass in November.

Sutter County is currently working on getting a percentage of a general sales tax measure led by Yuba City, which will most likely appear on the November ballot. Should the 1% tax measure pass, it is expected to generate $15 million annually. Revenue could be split on a 67% to 33% basis, with Yuba City receiving the majority of funds. Using a potential first year revenue base of $15 million, Yuba City would receive $10 million, while Sutter County would receive $5 million.

Yuba City City Manager Diana Langley said that the Citizens’ Oversight Committee will be tasked with reviewing an annual financial audit of the city on sections pertaining to the general sales tax measure, should it be approved by voters. The group will also prepare an independent report detailing the revenues, expenditures and results of the committee’s review. 

Langley said that the group will also serve as an oversight committee to Sutter County for funds shared between the two jurisdictions. The committee will also retain the authority to submit its annual report to the Sutter County Grand Jury.

“This would not require council approval. If they deemed it necessary and they were concerned with how the money is spent or budgeted, they could submit their report directly to the Grand Jury without council authorization,” Langley said.

The Citizens’ Oversight Committee will consist of five members. Those interested in joining must be age 18 or older, registered to vote, and reside in or own a business in Yuba City. An application is required, and selected members will ultimately be appointed by the city council. 

The Yuba City City Council will vote to place a revenue measure on the Nov. 5 ballot during the July 16 council meeting.

Community choice aggregation

Also on Tuesday, the Yuba City City Council received a presentation from the nonprofit Pioneer Community Energy and unanimously approved an assessment study to explore the possibility of implementing alternative energy supply contracts in the area. 

The Sutter County Board of Supervisors also received a presentation from Pioneer in April and approved a feasibility study on June 11 to further explore the program. Live Oak recently committed to joining the impact assessment study as well, the city said.

Also known as community choice aggregations, these systems enable local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of customers in place of investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Aggregators like Pioneer procure electricity on behalf of residential, commercial or municipal customers in their service territories. Power is then distributed and delivered by utility companies. By aggregating purchasing power, organizations like Pioneer are able to create large contracts with power generators and ultimately deliver reduced utility rates to customers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, community choice aggregations are an attractive option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, or lower electricity prices.

Pioneer CEO Don Eckert said there are around 24 community choice aggregations statewide and approximately 65% of PG&E’s territory is serviced by these systems. Between 2018 and 2023, Pioneer said it helped save $85 million for customers compared to PG&E.

An impact assessment study to determine the feasibility of joining a power aggregate will cost $30,000, of which Pioneer will pay half.

Both Pioneer and Yuba City will review the results by early fall this year with each party voting to join and expand the aggregation soon after. By December this year, Pioneer will submit an implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission, which will vote to approve this plan by spring next year.

Yuba City City Manager Diana Langley said that the Citizens’ Oversight Committee will be tasked with reviewing an annual financial audit of the city on sections pertaining to the general sales tax measure, should it be approved by voters. The group will also prepare an independent report detailing the revenues, expenditures and results of the committee’s review. 

Langley said that the group will also serve as an oversight committee to Sutter County for funds shared between the two jurisdictions. The committee will also retain the authority to submit its annual report to the Sutter County Grand Jury.

“This would not require council approval. If they deemed it necessary and they were concerned with how the money is spent or budgeted, they could submit their report directly to the Grand Jury without council authorization,” Langley said.

The Citizens’ Oversight Committee will consist of five members. Those interested in joining must be age 18 or older, registered to vote, and reside in or own a business in Yuba City. An application is required, and selected members will ultimately be appointed by the city council. 

The Yuba City City Council will vote to place a revenue measure on the Nov. 5 ballot during the July 16 council meeting.

Community choice aggregation

Also on Tuesday, the Yuba City City Council received a presentation from the nonprofit Pioneer Community Energy and unanimously approved an assessment study to explore the possibility of implementing alternative energy supply contracts in the area. 

The Sutter County Board of Supervisors also received a presentation from Pioneer in April and approved a feasibility study on June 11 to further explore the program. Live Oak recently committed to joining the impact assessment study as well, the city said.

Also known as community choice aggregations, these systems enable local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of customers in place of investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Aggregators like Pioneer procure electricity on behalf of residential, commercial or municipal customers in their service territories. Power is then distributed and delivered by utility companies. By aggregating purchasing power, organizations like Pioneer are able to create large contracts with power generators and ultimately deliver reduced utility rates to customers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, community choice aggregations are an attractive option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, or lower electricity prices.

Pioneer CEO Don Eckert said there are around 24 community choice aggregations statewide and approximately 65% of PG&E’s territory is serviced by these systems. Between 2018 and 2023, Pioneer said it helped save $85 million for customers compared to PG&E.

An impact assessment study to determine the feasibility of joining a power aggregate will cost $30,000, of which Pioneer will pay half.

Both Pioneer and Yuba City will review the results by early fall this year with each party voting to join and expand the aggregation soon after. By December this year, Pioneer will submit an implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission, which will vote to approve this plan by spring next year.

Yuba City City Manager Diana Langley said that the Citizens’ Oversight Committee will be tasked with reviewing an annual financial audit of the city on sections pertaining to the general sales tax measure, should it be approved by voters. The group will also prepare an independent report detailing the revenues, expenditures and results of the committee’s review. 

Langley said that the group will also serve as an oversight committee to Sutter County for funds shared between the two jurisdictions. The committee will also retain the authority to submit its annual report to the Sutter County Grand Jury.

“This would not require council approval. If they deemed it necessary and they were concerned with how the money is spent or budgeted, they could submit their report directly to the Grand Jury without council authorization,” Langley said.

The Citizens’ Oversight Committee will consist of five members. Those interested in joining must be age 18 or older, registered to vote, and reside in or own a business in Yuba City. An application is required, and selected members will ultimately be appointed by the city council. 

The Yuba City City Council will vote to place a revenue measure on the Nov. 5 ballot during the July 16 council meeting.

Community choice aggregation

Also on Tuesday, the Yuba City City Council received a presentation from the nonprofit Pioneer Community Energy and unanimously approved an assessment study to explore the possibility of implementing alternative energy supply contracts in the area. 

The Sutter County Board of Supervisors also received a presentation from Pioneer in April and approved a feasibility study on June 11 to further explore the program. Live Oak recently committed to joining the impact assessment study as well, the city said.

Also known as community choice aggregations, these systems enable local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of customers in place of investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Aggregators like Pioneer procure electricity on behalf of residential, commercial or municipal customers in their service territories. Power is then distributed and delivered by utility companies. By aggregating purchasing power, organizations like Pioneer are able to create large contracts with power generators and ultimately deliver reduced utility rates to customers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, community choice aggregations are an attractive option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, or lower electricity prices.

Pioneer CEO Don Eckert said there are around 24 community choice aggregations statewide and approximately 65% of PG&E’s territory is serviced by these systems. Between 2018 and 2023, Pioneer said it helped save $85 million for customers compared to PG&E.

An impact assessment study to determine the feasibility of joining a power aggregate will cost $30,000, of which Pioneer will pay half.

Both Pioneer and Yuba City will review the results by early fall this year with each party voting to join and expand the aggregation soon after. By December this year, Pioneer will submit an implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission, which will vote to approve this plan by spring next year.

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