Friday, April 13, 2012

On July 1st Water Rates Go Up Another 7.5%

The UUT renewal and de facto rate increase was overwhelmingly defeated this week. And one of the amazing things about this is not just that it happened, but also that the results were the polar opposite of what we saw with Measure U in 2008. As one poster pointed out yesterday, Measure U, the initial UUT rate increase, was approved by a 63% to 37% margin. But this year's Measure 12-1, which was basically the same proposal as Measure U with a longer sunset period attached, was defeated by an equally lopsided 61% to 39%. This represents quite a turnaround in a mere 4 years. How did something so momentous happen? What caused the voters to change their minds so drastically?

There are a number of factors involved, I'm sure. The economy being one of them, along with the general impression many in this community hold that what City Hall does just isn't all that vital to their lives. Despite all the prattle you hear about services and how the City "gives back so much."

As someone who is still waiting for approvals from the City to repair the damage to my house from the windstorm, I know I'm not exactly convinced on the "services" thing. Every time I look at the blue tarps that are still on my roof my thoughts are decidedly different.

But I think it goes back to the recent water rate increase, and the less than aboveboard way it was handled by then Mayor Joe Mosca. Initially rolled out as necessary for repairing aged water infrastructure such as ancient mains and pipes, thanks to some great research by residents here in town, it was soon revealed that the true reason for increasing water rates was old water bond debt. A deception that the City never did apologize to anyone for, they just changed their message once word got out.

I was going through some old issues of Susan Henderson's Mountain Views News and nowhere is this Orwellian message shift more obvious. The Looney Views News, as it has become known in town, has always being completely obedient to the marketing requirements of City Hall. The City being the source of much of the paper's income. This incident was no exception. Check this out from July 10 of 2010:

Current revenues from water users are not sufficient to continue operating the City's aging water system properly. This is primarily due to the fact that there has been no rate increase since July 2006 to keep up with the escalating costs of, for example, electricity that runs the pumps ... The City's current water delivery system, which dates back to the early 1900s, requires constant maintenance and improvements. As recently as this week, as if a warning to the City that the system's need for maintenance is immediate, an aging water main broke in the canyons. It appeared that the main had not been replaced since the 1930s.

So that was before the news broke here about the situation with the water bonds and how things such as that "aging water main" in the "canyons" had precious little to do with it. Here is how the Looney Views News reported that new information in January of 2011. With, of course, no acknowledgement that its previous messaging on the topic was entirely false, or that they had even said it.

At stake was the City's ability to pay the existing bond obligation on time. Those obligations, entered into years before this Council was seated, were created in the 1990s and for political reasons rates were not raised as recommended to keep up with increasing costs.

Even this was not completely true, however. Some of the $19 million in bond debt service does have its roots in the 1990s, but the majority of it came into being in 2003 when Bart Doyle was Mayor. Bart, widely suspected of being a benefactor to Susan Henderson's paper in many ways, was given what appears to be a pass here on any responsibility for the city's current bond debt woe.

On July 1st water rates do go up another 7.5%. This will bring the total increased take to 15%, with similar additional rate increases coming down in 2013 and 2014. Despite a massive Prop 218 water rate protest and a legal challenge.

So what does this less than on the level water rate increase have to do with the defeat of the UUT rate increase this week? Plenty in my opinion. This to me looks like it was the deal breaker. The UUT passed overwhelmingly in 2008 because the people of Sierra Madre believed what the City was telling them. There was a level of trust that made voting for an increase in utility taxes something that seemed necessary. They believed what they were told, and responded accordingly.

As we saw this week, that trust is no longer there. And the voters of Sierra Madre began the process of taking back from the City what they had so generously given in 2008.

Despite a long and protracted struggle with water ratepayers, the City did in the end get its water rate increase. But what it lost in the process is now costing so much more.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. "Something the City never did apologize to anyone for"
    Can anyone remember a time, ever, when the city staff or council owned up to making mistakes, and apologized? Ever?

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  2. As a volunteer going door to door talking to people about NO on the UUT, several citizens were inclined to think yes on the UUT until I mentioned the 7.5% water rate raise in July. They quickly changed their mind about any more taxes. Funny how people forget from year to year what their Council has done to them. Let's keep reminding them this time. With Koerber and Capoccia keeping watch, it can be done.

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  3. John Crawford has been our leader in exposing some very corrupt issues here in Sierra Madre and other nearby cities.

    The Tattler posters have joined the battle.
    Let's keep pressure on these dishonest politicians and city officials.

    We do have power of the internet to expose these issues. Our local printed press and online press here, with the exception of the Tattler are pretty much in lock step with corrupt policies.

    Please keep exposing these outrages and we will continue to defeat bad laws like 12-1 12-2 would have been.

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  4. where is Hail Hamilton's batty outrage over Henderson's lies and deceit or what has happened at city hall?

    nah,he's just out on personal hate missions

    no wonder he's Henderson's star puppet

    I hope he enjoys the $ 18 he receives per editorial

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    1. You're kidding, he gets paid?
      I figured he was the one paying.

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    2. Hail is one cheap little dude. All you need to do is print his column and he'll do anything you ask. Susan can make Hail bark, rollover, play dead and beg for treats.

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    3. Judas. Judas Hamilton. Sells out the town and its most principled Councilmember ever. And what for? An opinion piece every week in an unprincipled little rag owned by an unprincipled ammoral carpet bagger. Judas Hamilton.

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    4. Hard to believe he was once so involved in Measure V. Now he's just a grub.

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  5. To apologize the city would have to admit to a mistake. If you admit to a mistake you would have to admit to a problem. If you admit to a problem you would have to try to fix it. If you can't fix it you would have to admit to your incompetence!

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  6. Hey Bucky, It's Official!April 13, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    You are an extremely boring, unprincipled, loser.

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  7. Joe Mosca was denied the Mayorship twice by his colleagues. They were right to do so. The mess he made of things once he did get it shows just how wrong he was for the job.

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    Replies
    1. Mosca's legacy is not an honorable one.

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    2. I think that's why Mosca hated MacGillivray so passionately. Her integrity was always so obvious, and his was always non-existent.

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  8. More Taxing, OH NO..April 13, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    Never in my 40+ years has there been an apology. The Tattler is correct with ever increasing TAXES, but the fact is that is the job of Government, to always plan ahead and one of the planning ahead jobs is to promote growth in the City. When your planning to develop a City you need money so local government must keep a steady flow of it by taxing the taxpayers. I heard a saying that surely is true, "No Matter How Much Money You Give Government They Will Spend It All And Ask For More." A disgusting part of the entire process is how GOVERNMENT always tells us we will have to cut something that is important to us all, like, Teachers, Police, Medical, Firefighters, Paramedic's etc. etc., it gets tiring and down right insulting. The number of people who are tired of hearing this continual flood of lies to get more of our hard earned money is growing. This last election shows the number of people sticking together looking for the truth so good honest decisions can be made for our community and our pocketbooks.

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  9. What is worse than the liar, are the sheep that are following around the liar. It is still pathetic how people follow the likes of Bart Doyle and believe he is honest and good for them or anyone else. So the paying of rusty pipes is because the rusty dirty ole brains got together to line their rusty pocketbooks.

    Someone explain the truth, not the bond lie, about how the July 1st increase got passed.

    I'm buying bottled water, swimming in Arcadia, putting rocks on my grass.

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    Replies
    1. A lot has been written on this site about the water rate hike. Best thing to do is go to the Tattler search box and type in "water rate hike," and after that "Prop 218." Enough reading to keep you busy until lunch.

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  10. If I did the math rightApril 13, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    If I did my math right
    Assume a current $100 water bill. With a 9% UUT tax you now pay $109.00
    Assume a summer water bill of $100 after the new rate increase and UUT you will pay $117.17. City just got another raise in the UUT.

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  11. No need to p off the citizenry with a tax, just keep raising the rate. And then there is the penalty phase if you use too much water.

    All this has to do with conservation. We conserve in our water usage, user tax takes in less, raise the rates!

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    Replies
    1. That's exactly how it goes.

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  12. The UUT take has fallen off about $300,000 this year. The city is between a rock and a hard place right now.

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    1. Good,
      Now they'll be faced with the same painful decisions that us ordinary citizens face. Where to cut back and by how much. Simple math, hard choices, just like everybody else.
      Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

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    2. Can air be classified as a utility? Maybe we can be taxed for breathing.

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    3. It will be interesting to see how they are going to solve this mess. Last year there was a windfall, this year a shortfall. I don't envy them.

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    4. Again Karen made bad assumptions.

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    5. Good point,11:21. Maybe rates can be based on nostril size. With special penalty fees for mouth breathers.

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    6. Yes 11:18. I've been wondering if any of the city staff know what has been going on in the business world for the last 4 years. The pleas to think of the human element, the hurting hearts, the we-are-family stuff has been wildly out of touch with the working world.

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  13. The "non vote is a yes vote" scam (Prop 218), with a corrupt City Manager, City Attorney Sandra Levin purging just enough no votes to tip the vote to "pass" making the Water Rate Increase (using more corrupt schemes ie. Tiers, Meter Size, Pressure, Diameters, and who knows what else lurking in the hatchery at City Hall) an important test for the newly elected City Council. The lame ducks Moran and Walsh have already come down on the side of mediocraty and imaginary friendships. The new Councilmen Capoccia and Koerber offer fresh approaches to a better City Government. That leaves us with Harabedian and his support for the Utility Tax before he decided to be against it. The overwhelming rejection of any new taxes and votes favoring special interests, and developments gives Harabedian a road map to success. Lets see if he is wise enough to follow it and doesn't get into the barrel with the rotten apples.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting observation,12:44
      I've spoken to a lot of people who are thinking the Bart (EL MONTE SCANDAL) Doyle days are at an end.
      These plans were failures, just drive down to the ill conceived, ill fated Transit Village in El Monte.
      Anything Bart Doyle touches becomes corrupt, jailed, under indictment or flees the country.
      Yes, Bart Doyle is finished.

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  14. Didn't our current mayor come up with a scheme to figure out how much ut tax would be lost when people converted to solar power, sort of a "sun" tax..

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  15. The last council majority had blinders on and could only look in the direction of more taxes. The dog and pony show of reorganization of city staff was a bone thrown to the howling citizens to shut them up. Hopefully now with at least two responsible people on the council, real cuts will be made that reduce pensions, salaries, benefits, the whole shebang, and the city operates on a strict budget, just like so many of its residents do.

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    Replies
    1. The dog & pony show was politically correct and for the election audience. Now that the UUT is in danger of going back to 6%, things are going to get ugly. Of course, Nancy's enthusiasm for layoffs could come in handy here. Our very own Madame DeFarge.

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  16. With all this great rain, isn't it a shame that we don't have cisterns?

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    1. On the contrary, it was our wise ancestors who, no doubt, were taxed into some 'development' scheme to pave oVer our natural stream so the that all the water can quickly wash straight into the ocean rather than be absorbed into the aquifer to feed all the grass lawns they were convinced to plant.

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    2. As soon as the City adopts the new IBC and the overlay IgCC (green building code), the water conservation and energy conservation measures will include provisions for cisterns and many other kinds of measures that are not addressed in today's codes and requirements.

      Click on the link above for an explanation. No more "greenwash"

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    3. Is there some ordinance that prevents residents from installing a cistern? Why is it that people always wait to be told what to do? If you think a cistern is appropriate for your property, then by all means investigate!

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    4. I was thinking of the common good 2:59. With the run off from this rain, the whole town could be irrigated for 3 or 4 months. It's the approach of things that would be good for the community.

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    5. It is a good point. There has got to be another way for water to be circulated through the plumbing in town than having to seep down through a few hundred feet of rock and into our underground water supplies.

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  17. 2:07 The city can't even remember to put the diversion panel into the Santa Anita Wash so the settling ponds can fill up. Even better the San Gabriel and LA Rivers flow billions of cubic feet of water, at breakneck speed down the concreated river beds unhindered into the Pacific Ocean. Starting in Azzuza, and like the Irwindale Gravel Pits the many sites for lakes and dams and water storage all the way to the Pacific what a beautiful and practical way to provide water for our Los Angeles Desert. But then a lot of people make a lot money "daming and piping", canaling, storing, and feeding local water districts from 500 miles away. We wouldn't want to jeopradize that. How would we make our share on tiers, meters, pipes, pressure and storage without the SF Delta Water?

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  18. What a downpour we are having. Isn't it delightful knowing the city will make less money today on the water rates today? I remind myself of this every time it rains.

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  19. Have just learned of a rash of break ins down below the Boulevard to add to the ones in the canyon last week. Since we have no daily paper to read the PD stats in per a Police Blotter why not have the Tattler have a daily section for this public information. People need to know what is happening, what the scams are, who is being targeted and how to protect themselves.

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    Replies
    1. Anybody wants to take on the job of Crime Editor have at it. Mail in your reports to the Sierra Madre Tattler email address posted somewhere on the right hand side of this page and I will post it here.

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    2. Anything more specific, 3:19? Where on the Blvd.? Houses, condos, businesses? The police station?

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  20. Below SM Boulevard, in the south west residential area--there are private homes there mostly. Not sure which street(s) were hit.

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  21. get a police scanner. and they are not just below blvd, all over! luckily neighbors have reported unusual cars,trucks and police come asap....neighborhood watch meetings are perfect for discussing this face to face. i can ask the Chief for next meeting, maybe we can use city hall chambers again?

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  22. I heard Manzanita and Hermosa

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  23. Even more reason not to have the sheriffs

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    Replies
    1. Yes. It would be a shame to have our crimes not solved by a department that isn't exclusively our own.

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