Mary Brown and I have run a good hard honest campaign and have not resorted to any negative campaign tactics. We have shown the voters that we follow the rules, have no special interest other than helping get our CSD and will fulfill our fiduciary duties to the district and to the community in a courteous adult manner. We have suffered enough from CSD boards more interested in fighting each other than in the welfare of the District.
If elected, we intend to bring the following suggestions to the board and if the board approves we will work hard to see them through.
1.Make sure that the ad for General Manager is published in all newspapers for our area and on the various industry websites
2.The formation of a Grants Committee to actively seek out funding for infrastructure improvement and upgrading the entire treatment plant.
(We have researched this and there are stimulus monies from the American Recovery Act, grants available from the EPA and USDA just to name a few. We also have someone who has written grants for Public Agencies that will volunteer to help.)
3.Re-do the Prop 218 to include anywhere from 5-10 ccf's included in the $47 monthly service charge and to set tiered water rates.
(We are waiting for the usage figures from CSD to determine if this is feasible)
4.Analysis how CSD operates as a whole and see if there is anything we can do to make it more cost effective.
At the CSD meeting, yesterday the board voted to start the Prop 218 process on raising the monthly service fee. According to the auditor if the board does nothing CSD will be out of money sometime in April. According to our CFO says we could go another year if we use the monies in our LAIF leaving no monies for any major repair needed.
This means that on your Jan 1st bill your monthly service charge will increase by $20.00 (74%) and then go up $2.00 more each year from Jul 1, 2011 to Jul 1, 2015.
At the meeting Wes Barton (ex CSD pres) stated that he was going to an association meeting of Private Water Service Providers and said we would be much better off privatizing CSD. This is something that he has been working on since he was on the board and maybe even before.
Those of you that think we would be better off privatized need to read Private vs Public Water Here is a few facts to ponder.
A 2006 California Water Rate Survey show that households in districts with privately owned systems are paying, on average 20.28 % more per month for clean drinking water than households served by either municipal systems or special water districts created by citizens and overseen by government officials.
In the United States, regulations limit the profits of private water companies to a margin of approximately 10 percent. However, companies get around this by leveraging their assets. In other words, instead of using money they had borrowed for needed improvements to water operations and infrastructure, the companies invest in side businesses or other activities that diversify their operations to increase profits. In general, private companies have incentives to spend more on investments not directly related to the original purpose of improving water infrastructure so that more money goes into the pockets of corporate shareholders and executives.
In California, three of the six corporate water companies reported a combined income of $78.88 million in 2006.
I think what is most upsetting to me is that we ratepayers are always left holding the bag and I saw no real effort from the district in reducing their operating costs. We really do not have a choice on the rate increase; as the board will vote on it end of November. We do have a choice in the directors we elect to get us out of this mess.
Mary Brown and I have real life experience in business and finance and I served on the Assn board successfully for my 3 yr term and improved the finances without raising the dues.
Friday CSD held a meeting to discuss their financial shortfall and ways to cut costs and increase revenue to avoid running out of money before the end of this fiscal year. The auditor told the board president Emery Ross that if CSD kept going the way they are now CSD would be out of funds by April 2011. The board also directed Charise Reeves the CFO to start the Prop 218 process and to give the board several alternative rate and/or service charge increases for the board to review at the next meeting. Folks, this is very troubling but not surprising news.
Some directors blamed ratepayers who protested the two recent Prop218 rate increases. The board decided by a board vote, the ratepayers did not have a vote. Blaming others for what was their responsibility is wrong. The first Prop218 meeting for a water rate increase, they proposed 4 yr increases and voted in a 2-year increase. At the second Prop218 meeting for increasing the assessment on vacant lots, it was determined, that they had to do a ballot vote and so could not proceed with their Prop218 and it was stopped by a vote of the board again not the ratepayers.
Our current situation is not the fault of any one board, management or ratepayers but the cumulative bad decisions made by many over years. In addition, laying blame at this stage of the game is pointless. If we do not do a Prop218, we will not have water services in April. If we have no water what are our homes and property worth? Those of us with mortgages will find that we cannot get fire insurance.
I am afraid that as ratepayers, we really do not have a choice here and we will have to face the situation. What we can do going forward is attend meetings so that we know how the money is being spent before the fact not after.
In closing, I have to commend President Ross (who is running for reelection) for having the intestinal fortitude to start and have this Prop218 process completed just before the election.
The “Majority of Three” (Barton, Punte and Day) on the CSD board has voted to increase stand-by fees on all undeveloped lots without meters to $240 per year (a whooping 400% increase on a 1-acre lot). Moreover, this increase will go on their tax bill. While those of us on metered lots will be paying the $27.00 service charge for at least another 6 months. In addition, they intend to increase installation fees from $3500 to $6500 per installation. These Capital Facilities Fees only require a board vote and resolution to enact.
On the surface, sounds like a good deal for residents and a bad deal for undeveloped lots. However, if you look a little harder you will see that this is a bad deal for all. If CSD can get away with a 400% increase on lots that do not have meters, nor use the water and doubling the installation fees on property owners then what do you think is coming down the road for those of us who do use the water.
The economy is circling the drain; foreclosures are at record heights with more to come and unemployment in Tuolumne County at 15.6%, Mariposa County 14.5% and statewide 12.6%. How many of these undeveloped lot owners do you think are going to pay and how many will walk away from their property? Our property values are already in the toilet and this will have an extremely negative impact on them.
CSD thinks that 90% of the property owners will pay this increase and I think that they are not living in the real world on this issue. They will be doing well if they get 2o% to pay. What would be wrong with raising the rates in a tiered fashion over a period of years on these undeveloped lots? For instance, they could raise the yearly rate by 10-20% per year over a designated time. This way the CSD stands a much better chance of being paid.
I was told by a reliable source that the employee that authored this is promised a 10% raise if this goes through. Now I do know that when we had the last rate increase all the employees at CSD got generous raises. So is this 10% raise rumor or fact? You decide.
Has the board recouped the thousands of dollars spent for meters that do not work? Has the board tightened their belts and made the necessary cuts in operating costs? Did you think they should be planning to spend over ½ million dollars ($601,000) in 2010/2011 on salaries and benefits for 6 full time and 2 part time employees? Do board members deserve to collect $100 per meeting? My answer to all is a resounding NO!
To stop this insanity we need to protest this increase by sending in protest letters stating no to the increase and we need to pack the CSD on June 28. Please send your letters of protest to the Hacienda (see sample ltr) or hand carry them into the meeting on June 28.
Yes once again the powers to be at CSD are going back to the well and are trying to enact the second phase of Prop 218. In phase 2 of Prop 218 they intend to raise standby rates and new meter install rates appreciably. However, wait here is the carrot they are going to tell you that if the second phase passes then they will not increase our service rate next year. Really why am I not convinced?
Do they realize that the economy is circling the drain, foreclosures are at record heights with more to come and unemployment in California is at almost 13%? Apparently, they do not.
In their infinite wisdom, a “board majority” has banded together, spent money unwisely; giving raises and has done nothing significant to reduce CSD’s costs. Clueless comes to mind here.
We voted at the last CSD Board election hoping that this new board would step in and be fiscally responsible by making the hard decisions necessary for CSD to remain solvent. We should have known better. Sigh
Here are a few of my thoughts and questions on all of this.
Why does the CSD office have to be open 5 days a week 8 hours a day?
I know that many of the water districts scattered throughout the Sierras only have their offices open part time.
Why is everyone working full time in the office except for one part time person to answer phones?We only bill once a month, we have a payment box outside, answering machines are cheap and we do not have a land boom going on. I totally understand why the outside crew is required on a full time basis and have no problem with that.
Why did they give out raises during a time when they said they had no money? With so many out of work, my guess is that if they lost any employees due to no raises that there would be plenty applicants waiting to apply.
Why did they not look into the information I gave them on the EDD Work Share Program over 10 months ago?
Why should we give them more money when they have shown us that they cannot be fiscally responsible?
Based upon their actions so far I have no faith in anything this board tells us. I believe that the “Board majority” is in over their heads and unfortunately for us all they are voting in a block of three.
CSD will be meeting on Monday May 3rd at and Phase 2 is on the agenda. It is in everyone’s best interest to attend this meeting, as the board will be voting on this issue. I hope that their fearless leader will not babble for an hour putting everyone to sleep.
We gave them a rate increase last November and they have not tightened their belts at all, just back asking for more (must be time to give raises again).
Until CSD has shown they are being fiscally responsible, the well is dry.