A message from our CEO - Nancy Lindholm
Business people are normally very busy operating their companies, not watching city council meetings to find out how much electricity is going to cost them next year. The city of Oxnard has joined the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), which is a community choice aggregation program. It basically means the city has opted to purchase electricity through the CPA versus investor-owned utilities (such as Southern California Edison). Although Edison will still be delivering power through its grid and billing customers, the power rates will be established by the CPA.
In addition to joining the CPA, the Oxnard city council also opted to purchase 100% renewable sources of energy. This is the most expensive type of electricity. The higher rates will be applied to all Oxnard customers – residential and commercial – UNLESS THEY OPT OUT of the 100% renewable rate tier.
The city council received a presentation on October 23 covering three different rate tiers to choose from – 36% renewable, 50% renewable, or 100% renewable. Although city staff recommended they select the 50% renewable tier, the council voted for the pricier 100% option. It is estimated the increase in rates will be 7% to 9% higher.
Again, customers can OPT OUT of these higher rates. The CPA will be mailing two notifications to customers. If the customers do not respond, they will be paying the 100% renewable rate.
Customers can not only OPT OUT of the higher tier rate, but they can OPT OUT of the entire CPA and stay with Edison. However, they must act or they are automatically in the program the city selected.
FYI – The rates Edison charges its customers are set by the California Public Utilities Commission. The rates set by the CPA are set by a local board of directors. The CPA is currently made up of 29 cities in Southern California and the counties of Ventura and Los Angeles.
The target implementation dates are February 1, 2019 for residential customers (who will also receive two notifications) and May 1, 2019 for nonresidential customers.
So, watch your mail at home and at work to make sure you know what you will be paying for!
One of the Chamber’s signature publications is its annual Business and Community Guide. Advertising sales are now open for the 2019 edition.
As with past editions, the 2019 Guide will be distributed all over town. Most of the hotels in Oxnard make it available to their guests. With its eye-catching cover and beautiful photography, the Guide is something people hold onto and use as a buying reference.
The Business and Community Guide is completely compiled and produced by the Chamber, so in addition to promoting members’ goods and services, it’s a great way to support the organization as well.
Ad sales will be open until February 28. Prime advertising locations will go fast, so don’t delay. Contact the Chamber today to reserve your space. There are options to fit every budget.
With a new series of wildfires flaring up this month, the California Chamber of Commerce presents below responses to questions often received from the employer community about how to help employees and a recent Cal/OSHA advisory on worker safety.
Employers must remember some key obligations.
Even in an emergency, employers must be mindful of obligations under state employment laws and consider pay issues for exempt and nonexempt employees related to office closures.
Employers must pay exempt employees a full weekly salary for any week in which any work is performed. If the business is closed for the entire week, however, employers don’t need to pay exempt employees.
In emergencies, special pay rules apply for nonexempt employees.
If your business shuts down for any of the following reasons, you must pay nonexempt employees only for the hours they worked before being sent home:
However, if you shut down your business at your discretion (and not for one of the above reasons), reporting time pay may be owed. When a nonexempt employee shows up for work as scheduled and is not put to work or is given less than half of his/her scheduled hours, the employee would be eligible for reporting time pay: pay for one-half of the scheduled shift, but no less than two hours and no more than four hours.
Of course, employers are always free to pay employees or let them use vacation or other personal time. Many employers may choose to provide some paid time during emergencies. Just remember to be consistent!
Leave for Health Issues
Employees may be entitled to time off to deal with health issues that occur as a result of the disaster.
For instance, employees may use their California mandatory paid sick leave for the care or treatment of a health condition for themselves or a family member, as defined by the law.
They also may be eligible for time off for family or medical leave for themselves or to care for family members with any serious health conditions under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The FMLA and the CFRA cover employers with 50 or more employees and provide a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period.
Employers may have obligations to reasonably accommodate an employee under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Should an employee suffer a physical or mental injury because of a natural disaster, he/she may be entitled to protections under these laws.
In some situations, State Disability Insurance (SDI) partial wage replacement benefits may be available for individuals injured by the disaster (nonwork-related injury). Similarly, Paid Family Leave (PFL) partial wage replacement benefits may be available for workers who take time off to care for a covered family member injured in the disaster. The Employment Development Department can provide support services for employers and employees with these determinations.
School or Child Care Leave
Employers with 25 or more employees working at the same location may need to provide unpaid time off to employees whose children’s school or child care closed due to a natural disaster, such as a fire, earthquake or flood. For emergencies, the time must not exceed 40 hours per year.
Cal/OSHA AdvisoryCal/OSHA issued an advisory on Friday reminding employers that special precautions must be taken to protect workers from hazards from wildfire smoke.
When employees are working outdoors where the air is affected by wildfire smoke, employers are required by Cal/OSHA’s standards on Control of Harmful Exposure to Employees and Respiratory Protection to determine if the outdoor air is a “harmful exposure” to employees. Exposure is harmful when the pollution or contaminants in the air cause (or are likely to cause) injury, illness, disease, impairment or loss of function.
Local air quality districts provide information on outdoor air that can assist employers in determining if the outside air is harmful to employees. Employers should pay special attention when the outdoor air quality for airborne particles is “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy,” or “hazardous.” The outdoor air quality is posted at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, airnow.gov.
When exposure to wildfire smoke is considered harmful, employers are required to take the following measures to protect workers:
CalChamber members can find more information on Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans on HRCalifornia. Cal/OSHA offers resources as well. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.
A message from our Chair - Stacy Miller
In an effort to ensure that current and future Oxnard-based businesses have the high-speed Internet services and connectivity they need, the City of Oxnard has released a Broadband Internet business survey and embarked on the development of a new Fiber Master Plan.
The survey includes questions related to current connections, current Internet speed, costs for services and how well current broadband meets the business consumers’ needs at this time. The deadline for completing the survey is November 16, 2018. All businesses that complete the survey will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Amazon gift card. The Broadband Internet survey is available online via the City’s website at: https://www.oxnard.org/fiber.
In this day and age, access to reliable Broadband Internet services is a vital part of a city’s infrastructure—equally as important as streets, water, parks and sewers. Furthermore, Broadband connectivity enhances a City’s economic development potential by helping attract new, advanced businesses, as well as providing necessary Internet connectivity and services for existing businesses.
While other Broadband technologies exist using copper and wireless, the use of fiber is much more future-proof. Internet speed demand is estimated to reach gigabit speeds by 2020. The next wave of technologies, especially artificial intelligence, demands increasingly robust connections from both home and office. Fiber technology is critical to the future of the smart home and the Smart City, since many of today’s most connected cities determined that laying fiber is the foundation upon which many of tomorrow’s most connected services will be built.
Currently in the City of Oxnard, there is an existing network backbone that spans 38.45 miles of underground conduit with fiber running through about 31.81 miles of that conduit. Additionally, the City maintains 38 fixed wireless links between traffic signal locations. There is an additional 6.64 miles of conduit and fiber optic cable designed and planned for the expansion of the traffic signal network and other systems.
We applaud the City of Oxnard for capitalizing on this unique opportunity to leverage its existing fiber network by expanding from a closed, private network supporting limited City buildings and systems, to a more open network platform that can be utilized for public, economic and social benefit.
“Becoming a ‘Fiber City’ will help attract investment and support new business growth by providing access to robust, high-speed Internet and data networks,” said Kevin Pisacich, Oxnard’s IT Manager of Communications and Security Systems. “Gigabit fiber becomes almost like a renewable natural resource that benefits everyone for years to come. My vision for this network is that it will be the foundational infrastructure investment for the City that will provide high speed Internet services for businesses and residents as well as countless modern Smart City initiatives” said Keith Brooks, Information Technology Director for the City of Oxnard. We couldn’t agree more!
The City has selected Magellan Advisors as its partner in developing its new Fiber Master Plan. The new master plan will pave the way to guide the design, construction, implementation, maintenance, management, regulation, operation and funding of the City’s fiber-optic assets and related technologies.
To learn more about the project and complete the survey, visit the City’s website at https://www.oxnard.org/fiber. Remember, the City needs Oxnard-based businesses immediate input in completing the Internet survey by November 16th.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2019.
The IRS issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2018-83.
Highlights of Changes for 2019
The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.
The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA), which last increased in 2013, is increased from $5,500 to $6,000. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional IRAs, to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2019.
Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or his/her spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor his/her spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2019:
The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $120,000 to $135,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $193,000 to $203,000, up from $189,000 to $199,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
The income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $64,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $63,000; $48,000 for heads of household, up from $47,250; and $32,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $31,500.
Highlights of Limitations that Remain Unchanged from 2018
The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.
For more information, visit the IRS website.