Sierra Madre Sees a Real Surge in Its Water rates -- by 182% (Los Angeles Times -September 08, 1994) Water bills began arriving this week at Sierra Madre residences and businesses with a whopping 182% increase to pay for years of undercharging and poor accounting in the city's water department. The near-tripling of water rates by the City Council in July will increase the average household water bill from $18.50 a month plus $3 for a meter to $52.25 a month plus the meter charge, making it one of the most expensive districts in the Southland.
Including the meter charge, the same water usage in Arcadia and Azusa would run $28, in San Marino and Duarte $38, in South Pasadena $37, and in Los Angeles $48. The city's businesses and its few large-acreage owners will see hundreds of dollars heaped on their bills, according to city officials.
"We haven't increased the water rates in years. Foolishly, we cut them last year," said Councilman George A. Maurer. "The water department has been existing on money from the city and redevelopment agency. And now has come the time to pay the piper."
"Hmm," mused Agenda Man. "They haven't increased the water rates in years. Now where have I heard THAT ONE before?"
Oh well. Might as well get on with the Agenda Report.
The Tuesday, July 13, 2010 Sierra Madre City Council meeting will convene at 6:00 PM with a secret session having something to do with the Community Redevelopment Agency. Now we cannot know what is going on there because it is secret. But per a decision by the City Attorney we are allowed to speculate. My guess is that they found a previously unknown cache of gold coins placed under the floorboards of the back mop closet by His Excellency the Governor Pio Pico. Having left no instructions on how this money is to be used, identifying the appropriate fund for this largess will require an expert consultant be hired to study the matter. Something that will cost approximately the value of the coins.
Open Session: Call to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance, invocation, inspiration, approval of agenda, and approval of minutes will all take place. They always do. Mayor Joe Mosca will give the invocation, and I suspect it will be a prayer that the seething mob attending this evening's get-together will leave the feathers in their pillows.
Mayor and City Council Reports are next. In the past this was the time when City Councilmembers discussed activities that involved things beneficial to the community they were elected to serve. However, that doesn't seem to be the case with this particular Council. Look for a spirited finger painting session, followed by a "lightning limbo" challenge.
Public Comment and three presentations are up next. One of these presentations will be given by Richard Roche of AT&T Wireless. I suspect he too will pray that the feathers stay in their pillows. Or at least he should.
Action Items (so-called) start here.
Consent Calendar Item #1: $461,749.08 will be spent in Round A. $397,520.73 of it on salaries for the people who tell you to look it up yourself on the City of Sierra Madre website, with another $24,621.94 going to the Library. Round B features the flushing of an additional $2,874.72 down the CRA. Round C will be a fascinating second look into the topic of Safety Assessment Placards. I can only hope this matter isn't concluded so we'll get to hear all about it again in two weeks. My vote is for primary colors. Round D could very well mean the retirement of our classic 1979 GMC Water Tender Fire Truck. Rumor has it this retirement is a forced one due to an inappropriate squirting of kids with water at the 5th of July Parade without having first filled out the necessary legal paperwork.
Consent Calendar Item #2: This is a Public Hearing on the matter of Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Assessment Districts. Basically what this means is certain areas are charged by the City for certain services. Lighting, lawn mowing, landscaping, stuff like that. By law no more money can be charged for these services than it costs to produce them. A few years back too much money was collected, and these districts haven't had to shell out anything for a bit. Apparently that money has now been spent and bills are about to be put in the mail.
Consent Calendar Item #3 - Ordinance #1312 Adjusting Water Rates For Fiscal Years 2010-2015: Bring popcorn and your signed protest forms. This one could get wild. The people of Sierra Madre are taking their government back, and the Gang of 4 will not be happy. Democracy might not always be entirely congenial, but it is the best this old world has to offer. And trust me, it will be practiced tonight.
Consent Calendar Item #4: This one had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Apparently what is to be discussed here is the "Sierra Madre Municipal Code Regulating the Community Arts Commission Composition and Powers and Duties." I understand that this means the City Council is authorizing these people to seize any and all Velvet Elvis and Mr. T paintings within the borders of Sierra Madre. Also any wall hangings depicting dogs playing poker. Needless to say, they'll only get mine when they pry them from my cold dead hands.
Consent Calendar Item #5 - General Plan Update Identification Of Technical Advisory Committees/Areas Of Expertise: Basically what this spider's ball of governmental jargon means is they want to hire consultants rather than taking on volunteers to staff the General Plan Subcommittees. Which is ironic when you consider that Joe and John oozed such sincerity about putting their volunteers on the General Plan Steering Committee such a short time ago. This, along with the attempt to hamstring the GPSC with overzealous Brown Act enforcement and heavy handed legal department interference, is just the latest Gang of 4 attempt to kneecap volunteerism in this city. At least when it comes to the truly important matters.
Consent Calendar Item #6: The City Council had a retreat where they talked about some strategic stuff. Then they wrote a report. Now they want to receive and file it. So receive and file it.
Consent Calendar Item #7: Here City Council members get to discuss all the muckery they observed at the Federally funded redevelopment enforcement regime known as SCAG. Chances are pretty good that once again only MaryAnn went to these meetings, which will spare us some pontificating from the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem on this glorious central planning authority's latest historic 5 Year Plan. Which this time they apparently based on the reading of chicken entrails.
Consent Calendar Item #8: This one might be a big bad wolf in little sheep's clothing. Which could be why it was saved for last. Entitled "Reaffirmation Of City Council Action Of July 9, 2010 Regarding Emergency Waterline And Street Repairs On Sierra Madre Blvd.," what this could mean is empowering the City Manager to continue spending some serious cash on Eyewitless News's favorite SGV sinkhole. If so, it needs to be rejected. The $35,000 spent last Friday was necessary, but any further spending at that level should not be automatically authorized just because meeting in emergency session interferes with someone's social life. Each instance needs to be considered as a unique event. We should never want to see that level of spending being authorized by anyone but elected officials, and in an open session.
Tattler Tip: If you want a decent seat this evening I suggest you get to City Hall early. Some Sierra Madre history could very well be made.