The excessive rate increase proposed by SLV Water District has taken on a whole new spin within the recently sent public notifications. Hiring a new and expensive PR firm will do that. The $6 million administrative campus, after 8 years in planning and $3 million already spent outside of rate-payer oversight, has suddenly become a facilities consolidation project. But they didn’t tell you the price tag has jumped to $9 million, did they?
The Capital Improvement Program is designed to guide the priorities for infrastructure repair and maintenance. But, it has not been updated since 2010, and they haven’t supplied rate-payers with a current and defined list of projects, and their individual projected costs to justify the proposed rate increase. SLVWD is asking rate-payers to blindly give them the money and trust in their financial planning abilities. That being the case, let’s look at the last time they pushed a rate increase through.
In 2011 SLV Water relied on voter apathy to ram a 15 percent increase upon the rate-payers. They justified it by stating they had incurred a two-year, $600,000 shortfall due to raising energy costs and reduced revenues from rate-payer conservation. The problem is, in that very same time period, they spent $600,000 of the rate-payer’s fees for Admin Campus pre-construction planning and facilities remodeling. While their SLV neighbors were cutting back and trying to stay afloat, SLV Water was spending freely; not practicing sound business tactics.
SLV Water needs to step back and regroup. Then come back and present a revised, transparent and detailed rate increase proposal to the rate-payers. Rate-payers need educate themselves with the facts, not PR fluff. (Visit www.slvwd.co).
If the current rate increase passes, the average rate-payer will pay an additional $250 per year, for the next five years. Those on fixed incomes, families trying to make each paycheck last, and parents trying to keep their kids involved in extracurricular programs are going to be hit the hardest. Rate-payers also need to attend and participate in the Thursday, Oct. 10, or Thursday, Oct. 24 (both from 7 to 9 p.m.) Open House Meetings at the Highlands Park Senior Center in Ben Lomond. Most importantly, if you agree that this is a reckless rate-increase, you need to mail in a Letter of Protest by Thursday, October 24, or submit one in person at one of the Open House meetings. It’s the only way rate-payers can put the brakes on this unjustified money-grab.
- Mark Messimer of Felton is one of the founders of the San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs which has begun to actively oppose SLV Water District’s proposed rate increase.