Los Angeles DWP Revenue Transfers and Budget Deadline, Measure J (March 2011)
Measure J requires the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to propose its annual budget earlier in the year.
The Los Angeles City Council voted to put Measure J on the ballot in response to the fact that in 2010, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) threatened to withhold $73.5 million from the city unless electricity rates were increased. City Council president Eric Garcetti said, "[Measure J] prevents the DWP from putting a gun to the head of L.A."
In the wake of the November 2, 2010 approval of Proposition 26, city attorneys are "studying whether any DWP transfer can ever be made to the general fund again without a two-thirds vote of the electorate."
Measure J was one of 10 ballot measures on the March 8, 2011 City of Los Angeles ballot.
- Stephen Box, a writer for LACityWatch, said, "Responsible management of city assets should be de rigueur but given the turf war that roils in City Hall, it’s apparently now up to the people to demand accountability and oversight."
- Jack Humphreville, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, said, "A Yes on Measure J is a no brainer. It is what Corporate America has been doing for generations. So let’s welcome City Hall and our Department of Water and Power to the late Twentieth Century."
- The Los Angeles Times supported Measure J, writing, "By coordinating the DWP's budgeting process with the city's, this measure would prevent a repeat of last year's apparent extortion attempt in which the utility threatened to withhold a surplus payment to L.A.'s general fund unless the City Council approved a big rate increase."
- The editorial board of the Daily Breeze endorsed a "yes" vote on Measure J, saying, "Each year the DWP transfers more than $200 million in revenue to the city's general fund to help pay for city services. Last year, the DWP threatened to withhold a portion of the transfer because the City Council wouldn't approve higher power rates. The standoff nearly left the city unable to pay its bills. Measure J is a direct response to that scuffle. It requires the DWP to guarantee the revenue transfer earlier, so there is no chance of a last-minute withholding. Also, it would require the DWP to share its budget with the mayor and City Council earlier, while they are drafting their own budget."
About the DWP
The DWP is the nation's largest municipally owned utility, and has an annual budget of about $4 billion. It has 9,000 employees and 1.4 million customers.
The commission that governs the DWP is composed of five persons appointed by the city's mayor.
The DWP has indicated that in order to reach its goal of a set percentage of renewable energy by 2020, it needs to increase its rate about 5% to 8% each year.
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Measure J: Shall the Charter be amended to (a) require the Department of Water and Power for informational purposes to submit to the City Council by March 31 each year a preliminary budget for the ensuing fiscal year (July 1 through June 30), to be updated by May 31 with new information, and (b) establish procedures for making surplus transfers from the Power Revenue Fund to the City Reserve Fund?|
- Official Voter Guide/City of Los Angeles/March 8, 2011 election
- Measure J ballot title
- Measure J charter language
- DWP Oversight: Hollow and Symbolic Without a Cop
- List of March 8, 2011 ballot measures published on "The City Maven"
- Los Angeles Daily News, "Reform measure for ballot in doubt", December 8, 2010
- Los Angeles Times, "City ballot measures would rein in DWP", February 23, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "Villaraigosa's DWP pick an outsider", December 15, 2010
- LA City Watch, "Ballot Measure for Measure: City Hall’s cry for help!", February 8, 2011
- LA City Watch, "Getting a Handle on DWP’s Budget and Transfer Fees: A No Brainer", February 8, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "Times endorsements for the March 8 city elections", March 6, 2011
- Daily Breeze, "Vote `yes' on DWP ballot measures", February 21, 2011