Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Water Rate Increase "Process" Is Going As Predicted

Meanwhile, in Washington DC ...
"When will the city stop asking for more money? Why, do you have some left?" - a reader

You do have to wonder if a time is ever coming when the City of Sierra Madre will stop asking for more money. It has been a fairly steady pace of "hand out and demanding more" around town for a quite some time now.

And there is no greater example of Mayberry Money Love (MML) than what is going on with our currently under construction water rate hike. Last night was, to use urban terminology, a bit off the chain. We really are talking about fairly massive rate hikes here. Impressive in a way, even for a City where the cost increases for everything possible have been pretty much nonstop.

Not that there were any surprises last night, mind you. Mayor Nancy "I've Been Burned Before" Walsh, Mayor Faux Tem Harabedian, along with the always angry about something Councilmember Josh Moran, all showed signs of going for the Bob's Big Boy 59% rate increase package. Identified on the consultant's three item easy meal menu as Scenario #1, it is the largest of all the three proposed water rate increases made available to them by that helpful gentleman.

I know, I was shocked, too.

Councilmembers John Capoccia and Chris Koerber, on the other hand, spoke about their support for the least expensive of the easy meal marvels on the consultant's menu, the 49% increase Scenario #3. The notion here being to lessen the sticker shock that many residents will experience, especially in the first year when two water rate increases are called for. The sensibilities of the ratepayers being of greater concern to the City Council's minority faction.

Much of this difference of opinion is apparently based upon the water bond covenant situation. Whereas the Scenario 1 Fun Bunch seemed terribly concerned about what the bond rating world might think of us, the minority Scenario 3 Faction were more interested in the opinions of the residents of Sierra Madre. The point being that the rarified and more expensive viewpoint that bond covenants are more important than the pocketbooks of the lokes, while certainly banker correct, might not work politically. Which is an important consideration in a Prop 218 situation.

This leads us to the two ton elephant in the room, the possible future sale of additional water bonds. Should Scenario 1 prevail, the Water Department would be, to use Councilmember Capoccia's appropriate metaphor, "awash in cash." At least after a couple of years. Cash reserves will have never been that high.

The Angriest Councilmember In The World, Josh Moran, sputtered on (and on) about the need to set aside such large sums so that the many capital improvements needed can be fully funded. A viewpoint that hardly precludes the issuing of more bonds.

Now don't you think that it might have been the availability of generous cash reserves that led to water bond sales here in 2003? And that having so much money laying about would make it possible for a John Harabedian to pack up his ties and head to Washington DC in search of yet another $10 million dollar matching fund? Something we would be eligible for if we sold more water bonds? All made possible by the covenant saving powers of Scenario 1?

After all, that is how Bart Doyle was able to swing the deals that got us those attractive water tanks we can see around town. The downside being the City found itself accepting an "eazy payments" interest only payback plan that turned a $6.75 million water bond issue into $15 million dollars in hard debt. A huge financial burden on our city today, and one of the reasons why water rates are being driven higher. Paying all of that back while funding millions of dollars in water infrastructure projects being the equivalent of fighting a two front war.

All of which leads to what I will call Scenario #4. The ratepayers deciding that they don't want to approve the maximum possible water rate increase available. Done out of the belief that putting so much cash into the hands of Bartlings like Nancy, Angry Josh and Johnny is like letting your five year old play with matches. Eventually they are going to do the wrong thing, put us $10s of millions of dollars deeper in debt, and financially burn down the entire City.

Trust me, they're plenty dumb enough to do it.

How the City of San Diego made a Prop 218 ballot available to its ratepayers

Not every city attempts to suppress the vote of its ratepayers by refusing to put a Prop 218 ballot inside  its water rate increase hearing notification. As you can see by clicking hereSan Diego's 2011 mailing included an entire page explaining your rights to vote down a water rate increase through Prop 218, and then provided a form the ratepayers could use to do it.

As you may recall, in 2010, and under the leadership of oh-so civil Mayor Joe Mosca, the City of Sierra Madre refused to issue a Prop 218 ballot. Instead preferring to treat this voter approved statewide law like a sort of dirty secret. Something that outraged the residents of this City and fueled a citizen-run protest campaign that paradoxically nearly defeated the 2010 water rate increases.

It will be interesting to see if City Hall makes that same mistake again.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

58 comments:

  1. Hello, here in La Habra Heights we ran with the rate protest form idea mailed by the City of San Diego to ratepayer. We improved on it by making it a single sheet ‘tear off’. The campaign against the water rate increase used the flyers by mailing, walking door to door and handing them out at grocery stores. It almost worked!

    Link to Flyer: http://www.theavocadoexpress.com/News-PDF-Files/WaterRateProtestMailer.pdf

    And here are the results: http://youtu.be/03CqXV8V6pA


    Note: Printing (Gang Run) and design (Us) was cheap.

    EOM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George - thanks for this. Is La Habra Heights still a Colantuono & Levin city?

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    2. Thanks Mr. Edwardz.

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    3. Still a Colantuono & Levin city. You can read about our latest Colantuono & Levin involved fiasco here: www.LaHabraHeights.net Expanding City Hall without first obtaining a permit! #BadLegalAdvice

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    4. They're quite an outfit.

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  2. Shut the Sierra Madre City Government Down!

    We the residents & property owners of the City of Sierra Madre do not want any more "Long Term Debt".

    If the City Council can not afford to buy it (pay cash for it), then we do not need it!

    No more Long Term Debt - No more long term financing!

    THERE WILL BECOME A DAY WHEN THE CITY WILL NEED TO PURCHASE A MAJOR PURCHASE,

    1. The city will have no credit

    2.he city will have no money

    3. financing will not be available

    4. the property owners will have no water

    5. The city needs to grow up and cut services and major purchases now!

    6Question...

    When the last time you saw the entire city council say we can not afford it...

    Spend.. Spend '' Spend the property owners money is the city councils way of life!

    from a concerned property owner

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am stunned at the brazen contempt our so called elected representatives have for the people who elected them.The City Council makes no effort to mask their game to enfeeble and dismantle what remains of our unique community.The humor as they see it is the people are paying for this destruction through increased fees and water rates.This is not to forget the contamination of our water supply.They are very smug because they are confident the community is overwhelmed with other matters.So be it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best way to teach them humility is to defund them. Without our money they're just another small group of people with opinions.

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    2. Defund them and take away their rights one by one so that all important decisions are made by a vote of the residents.

      Delete
  4. yes shutting down the government works so well ! , your post is not practical , Then you should only pay cash for your house and car , and no college with out cash

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What makes no sense is to accept terms on a loan that the most wicked of loan sharks would drool over.

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    2. GET REAL... do you have a limit on borrowing?

      The city has pledged the income stream received from "YOU - the PROPERTY OWNER" to borrow More money for the city wants - at the property owners expense!

      that's "B... S..."

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    3. The City of Sierra Madre is Not Paying Competitive Water & Sewer Rates!

      WATER & SEWER RATES
      Per Unit - 100 Cubic Feet - 748 Gallons

      Water Sewer

      $1.40 $8.42 Arcadia (626) 256-6650

      $1.45 $4.77 Monrovia (626) 932-5575

      $1.12 $12.00 Pasadena (626) 744-4191

      $.92 $12.71 Pomona (626) 620-2241

      $2.12 $22.20 Sierra Madre (626) 355-7135
      x 109% 109% UUT / Utility User Tax
      _______ _______

      $2.31 $24.20

      City of Sierra Madre Proposed Water & Sewer Rates

      $2.12 $22.20
      X 159% 195% Water & Sewer Fee Increase
      _______ ________

      $3.37 43.29

      X 109% 109% Utility User Tax
      _______ ________
      Sierra Madre
      $3.67 $47.19 Residents Cost of Utilities

      x 200% Or / 300% Water Penalty

      ___ ? _____ cost to include penalty

      Delete
  5. The last attempt to use the deceptive Prop 218 (that employed a "non voting houshold is counted as a yes vote") was so outrageous that it carried its own poison pill with it. If the City is smart it will flood with the San Diego type balot and direct understandable detail for the rate increase to the residents. Let us proceed as if the City is filled with adults who can read, understand, and decide based on facts presented.

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  6. I would like to thank everyone that voted for Moran, Walsh, and Harebedian.
    Get out you check book and pay for my water bill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last night Nancy opined that our water rates aren't as high as those of some other cities. Good to see her competitive nature kicking in. Maybe soon utility taxes won't be the only category where we lead.

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    2. The rate will not be one sided vote all the council members will have voted for it

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    3. There is a political reason for that. Harabedian pointed it out. All 5 on the council have to be seen as all supporting the water rate increase. They want a united front on this. They also plan to go door to door asking for resident support.

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    4. MPT* said he was going door to door. I didn't hear anyone else say they would.

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    5. I heard that and my impression is he felt he was speaking for all 5 members. Noone objected.

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    6. Johhny Process? He's the smartest guy on the room. Or maybe that was Josh. I'm dazzled by both.

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    7. Harabedian will go door to door, or some out of town supporters will do it for him?

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    8. Here is my problem. I can see the need to raise water rates. It is unfortunate, but it's probably necessary. But everything in me wants to deny them that money. Every damn cent. Just because I cannot stand them and that stupid garbage they talk. Does anybody else feel this way?

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    9. this comment is garbage talk

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    10. I'll have to remember to recycle it.

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    11. 2:10, remember that feeling. The UUT3 and probably some upcoming Council candidates will tell you they need more UUT, as well. 12%, anyone?

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  7. The city staff thinks of informed residents as enemies. So does the current mayor.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Weirdest thing. The Feds shut the govt down and the stock market is up. I thought this was supposed to cause a Wall Street panic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today, the Federal govt. is finally spending less money.

      Delete
    2. We watch the gold quote and weirdest thing... gold is dropping; down below $1,300 last time I checked earlier today...

      Delete
    3. No IRS audits being done. I feel better already.

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    4. What if the Federal Govt shut down and nobody cared? Could we deal with a world where government isn't at the center of our lives?

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  9. No, that comes when the debt ceiling isn't raised, and we default on money already spent.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 9.07 has the right idea.
    Deny any money for anything.
    Provoke BK
    Start over with new Council of sensible citizens.
    The alternative is just more of the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. time to dig in heels and say NO.. NO to the theft of our money to finance their boondoggles!

      Delete
  11. SMPD... Santa Anita Canyon Road - Chantry Flats Closed

    http://nixle.com/alert/5070516/#sthash.MGkZYsyO.dpuf

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm scared tp ask, but was there any context for Mayor Walsh's remark that she has been burned before?
    Or was it one of those lulus that make everyone wonder what she's talking about?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy voted for the Mosca 2010 water rate increase which turned out to be a failure. Back then she had asked for too little from the residents, or so she believes today. Now she wants to ask for too much, and her previous bad decision making has become the justification for bad decision making today. Think of it as mood swing management.

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    2. Was she making excuses for past screw ups?

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    3. Think I get it - she's claiming that council members who voted against her "burned her." Good Lord, the woman has no end of charm.

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    4. She voted in a bad solution to the problem over MaryAnn's proposal which would have put money into the reserve for repairs. She and the others voted against MaryAnn because it was MaryAnn.

      Delete
  13. Predicting high winds next few days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get ready for Edison to go off.

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    2. A hot air low downtown is sucking in wind from the mountains.

      Delete
    3. Oh my God! It's the Malarkey Vortex! We haven't seen this since 2003!

      Delete
    4. Tie everything down! Otherwise you'll lose everything!

      Delete
    5. Auntie Em, it's a twister!

      Delete
  14. Mayor Faux Tem! Lol Tattler. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  15. And Tattler you're right about that angry not-so-young man.
    Seems like he thinks that a bad temper gives him gravitas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's occurred to me that Councilman Moran may remember what it was like when his mind was sharp, and he mimics some aspect of that.

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    2. When Josh asks for more money he becomes aggressive and uncompromising. Next he belittles those who dare stand in the way of his request. Then he talks about lattes.

      Delete
  16. My bet on the mailing of the ballot is that the 2 adults on the council will shame the teen three into seeing it's the appropriate course of action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't know 1:24 - that presupposes a sense of shame exists. Looks to me like Walsh Moran and Harabedian are all on the warpath, and are probably convinced they are unquestionably right. Half-baked, and aggressive.

      Delete
  17. WATER & SEWER RATES
    Per Unit - 100 Cubic Feet - 748 Gallons

    Water Sewer

    $1.40 $8.42 Arcadia (626) 256-6650

    $1.45 $4.77 Monrovia (626) 932-5575

    $1.12 $12.00 Pasadena (626) 744-4191

    $.92 $12.71 Pomona (626) 620-2241

    $2.12 $22.20 Sierra Madre (626) 355-7135
    x 109% 109% UUT / Utility User Tax
    _______ _______

    $2.31 $24.20

    City of Sierra Madre Proposed Water & Sewer Rates

    $2.12 $22.20
    X 159% 195% Water & Sewer Fee Increase
    _______ ________

    $3.37 43.29

    X 109% 109% Utility User Tax
    _______ ________
    Sierra Madre
    $3.67 $47.19 Residents Cost of Utilities

    x 200% Or / 300% Water Penalty

    ___ ? _____ cost to include penalty

    ReplyDelete
  18. we dont need double space

    ReplyDelete
  19. 2:32 is deja vu all over again.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Q) How many City Staff does it take to change a light bulb?
    A) Isn't there a consultant we can hire for that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The consultant will have to say how many. And underwhat circumstances. And relating to which codes.

      Delete

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