Sunday, January 26, 2014

All You Need To Know To Submit A Prop 218 Water Rate Protest Ballot This Tuesday Is Right Here

The deadline to submit a Prop 218 water rate increase protest ballot is this coming Tuesday. You can even turn it in during that evening's City Council meeting. Talk about life on the edge. You can still bring it down to City Hall tomorrow or Tuesday should you wish. Just be aware that they won't be overly anxious to help you before 11AM. They do have other priorities before then, you know.

The actual ballot is located at the bottom of this page. You can print it out, fill in the information, and perhaps spare yourself rate increases of 61% for water and 100% for using the sewers. Oh, and don't forget to put your ballot in an envelope. I am not sure why, but I have been told it is important that you do so. I guess that way it can be opened on Tuesday.

At this point we are a little bit behind the curve. Calls are being made by concerned volunteers all of this weekend, and the interested parties are being directed to the page I have reproduced below. My guess is that we have about 600 more ballots to go out of the approximately 1,800 needed, which at this late date is a lot. However, stranger things have happened in this town, and a big last minute surprise is not necessarily impossible.

All you need too know to submit a Prop 218 Water Rate Protest Ballot is detailed below. Please read this information carefully. I believe we need to send these substantial water and sewer rate increases back to the City Council for a further review. I do not think a city government that has refused to level with us about the absurd levels of water bond debt we are now carrying deserves to be rewarded with even more of our money. 

Hopefully next time the City will finally understand that the people have a right to know who was responsible, and exactly what they were thinking when they created $9 million dollars in unnecessary additional debt by making a decade and a half of interest only payments on a $6 million dollar water bond. 

After all of these years, the truth finally needs to be heard. Help us make that happen.


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39 comments:

  1. To tell the truth, it's such a refreshing feeling to get back to basic's, one of the principles this country was founded on.

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  2. The Looney Views News this week has what it claims is a "reasonable" discussion on the water rate hike. And what is reasonable? An entire article of Elaine Aguilar repeating the same old nonsense she's said before. Nothing about bond debt, of course.

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    1. Susan and Elaine. Talk about an echo chamber...

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    2. The city needs money for the water department. Otherwise staff will have to take cash for it out of the General Fund, something that is now largely earmarked for pensions, salary increases and more special benefits. If this water rate increase goes through we'll need to change the name of this town to Sucker Madre.

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  3. Regarding a blog a few days back---

    Callers: be sure to identify yourself by name and that you are a neighbor/resident of Sierra Madre and then on with the information as the Mod states above.

    Be sure to know what your Meter #/Billing info is before you head down with your replacement protest (it was on the first mailing) and that you are the person to cast your NO vote.

    I got two calls from Mr. G (I don't know how to spell his name) but I know him and I think that what really matters.

    These are not robocalls, these are neighbor to neighbor calls.

    I do believe water rate increases are long overdue but must be done in a fair and equitable manner.

    How will the ALF's sewer hook up be doubled and the increased water rates applied as they have no current record. Likewise, the houses (I almost called them "homes") at 1 Carter/Carter Gate?

    We are stuck with a very disfunctional system that will get more so before finding a corrective direction. We need an outside auditor to find the real wrongs before you can make this right.

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    1. Finally the perfect nickname for that mess on the mountain! Cartergate. Good one 8:32.

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    2. Cartergate at Sucker Madre.

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  4. Should the final number of protests fall short, at least the council will know there's a sizable group of water paying customers who know they are being bamboozled. They'll also probably mutter prayers of thanks to the way 218 is set up.

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    1. I make it that even not counting the multiple responses inside some of the envelopes, one third of the water department customers are unhappy.

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    2. It will be a lot closer than that. The Prop 218 scam is hard to win because a lot of people don't have a clue about what they need to do. Plus anything they get from the city they immediately throw out without even looking at it. So the water rate hike might get through. However, the UUT scam is on the ballot and is probably doomed. Especially after people start getting their new jumbo water bills. My prediction? The water department will once again be cash rich, and city hall will raid it just like they always did back in the old days.

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  5. "Carter Gate" sure is a negative pseudoname. Reference to the second worst President in history, right behind our current disgrace in the White House.

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    1. Anything Carter in this town was named after one of the founding figures around here. It has nothing to do with Mr. Peanut.

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    2. The founding father who arm wrestled with Lucky Baldwin for the water rights.
      Too bad city hall so badly mismanaged what he fought for.

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  6. "and exactly what they were thinking when they created $9 million dollars in unnecessary additional debt by making a decade and a half of interest only payments on a $6 million dollar water bond."

    In the unending and futile quest of having an informed electorate, if you want to cancel out the accruing debt caused by paying interest only for the last 10 years, you need to pay $90 right now. This would catch your meter up to the payments you did not make on the principal, and pay off the additional interest accrued so far. This would cancel out the future interest debt that would accrue for your meter.

    The infrastructure improvements that caused the debt required a loan. There is no such thing as a zero interest loan. If ratepayers would have preferred no loan, then each meter would need to have been assessed a one-time upcharge of $2000 in the year 2003 for the reservoir.

    If the ratepayers would prefer the future infrastructure repairs and improvements to be made in cash and not through loans, similar one-time fees will be needed.

    If anyone would like to fact check these numbers: the loan is 6.75 million. The rate is 5%. The term is 30 years. The payments have been $339, 345. Plug the numbers into a 30 year fix rate mortgage calculator with 0 down. The number is now a fixed payment of $362, 355. A difference of $23,010. There are roughly 3800 meters in Sierra Madre. This yields a figure of $6.05 a year. Multiply this by ten years $60.50. Now add the accrued interest of that unpaid $60.50 over 10 years. That equals an extra $15, bringing the figure up to $76.80. I didn't want anyone to accuse me of minimizing the figure by not counting 2014, so I just put it up at $90 to be safe.

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    1. And this, ladies and gentleman, is how some duplicitous soul attempts to explain away $9 million in Sierra Madre debt created by making interest only payments on 2003's $6 million water bonds. Perhaps the most financially irresponsible act in this town's history. They have posted it over and over again. As if by saying it often it could somehow turn their fibbing true.

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    2. Are we back to latte' economics again?

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    3. Looks like it. Maybe it's Josh.

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    4. So if it only takes $90 a meter to fix the bond debt situation, why raise water rates 61% Or why push paying down the principal on these bonds back until the end of time?

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    5. Accuse the facts of being duplicitous? There is not an extra 9 million of debt for making interest only payments for the 2003 bonds. I've shown you the actual numbers. I've shown you the actual math. Putting your fingers in your ears and sticking out your tongue doesn't make you right. Where is my math wrong? If you can show me where it's wrong, then you win. If you can show me a 30 year fixed payment that would yield us 9 million dollars of savings in interest, then you win. Show me the numbers.

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    6. There is no excuse for making interest only payments for a decade and a half. None. All you did was saddle the public with a lot of unnecessary debt that THEY will have to pay off. Your desperation is starting to show.

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  7. Why do you continue to put national politics into this blog it has nothing to do with it , but since you did there are many people it town who think the Bush was the worst ! so what does it get either of us in the talk about Sierra Madre.

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    1. Right you are 10:34. Local politics unite us, national politics divide us.

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  8. Council member Bart Doyle hops on the plane and heads to Washington to secure some dollars to add to the loan and it has to be determined that the 3 reservoirs (not the one reservoir mentioned in post 9:44 a.m. re the 2003 $9 million debt) are not earthquake hardy. Well, if you have to replace a weak rereservoir to sustain water delivery, replace ONE, not all three. If you have an earthquake you keep water for delivery in the new one and let the others drain for public safety. Inspect the ones you drain and put them back on line when it is determined they were ok. The reservoir at the northwest corner of Mt. Trail and Mira Monte has its original outter shell because it was so strong they decided not to spend the time/money to dismantle all of it. That was observed, my friends, by many of the residents. But, no, Bart wants to secure the money and his position as the big player and here we sit, in debt, poor bond rating, etc., etc.

    (PS Correct me if I am wrong!)

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    1. This is a good point.

      But we have 3 separate reservoirs for 3 different zones in Sierra Madre. The 1998 bonds paid for the reservoir on Grove (among other items). The 2003 bonds partially paid for the MiraMonte Reservoir which cost 14 million in total, (the rest of the tab being picked up by the feds).

      South Pasadena is replacing all of their reservoirs.

      But at least this question gets to the crux of the issue. Should we have spent our money on reservoirs or should we have spent it on tearing up roads and replacing pipes? It's armchair quarterbacking, but it's the crux of the matter. Then again, would the Feds have paid for half of our water pipe replacement?

      South Pasadena is now looking for Federal help to pay for their reservoirs, but the political climate is a lot harder to get money out of these days than it used to be.

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    2. The reason the reservoirs were built was to provide necessary water infrastructure support for the Downtown Specific Plan. A absurd development scheme that crashed and burned once the people of this town rose up and passed Measure V. Now these dinosaurs sit there as a mute testimony to the stupidity of the Doyle City Councils. Along with all of that debt.

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    3. I don't think that's why the reservoirs were built, but for damn sure that's why Bart Doyle pushed the MWD hook-up.

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  9. I do not think that is true of the reservoir

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    1. Some folks want to talk a lot about the reservoirs. They think it will distract you from any conversation about the grotesque financial mismanagement that went along with it.

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  10. 1:30 you are living in world that nobody else lives in

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    1. Enjoy the yellow water you'll be paying 61% more for. Your contribution for those fine resevoirs. Too bad they didn't fix the pipes instead.

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    2. The water tanks were built for feng shui purposes.

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  11. Bottom line is: yes, the city was stupid about the bonds, and yes, way back when there was some hanky panky about water department vs. general fund monies. But now, when there is a great shortage of water, and our debts have been called in, we need to bite the bullet and pay our dues, buy some water, and try and hope that we can be smart about how we spend our money from here forward. For the city to say, yes, we're sorry we did this stupid thing, will not solve the problem, and that is the only reason I see why most of you are protesting the rate raise.

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    1. Translation: Pay up and shut up. How Sierra Madre government.

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    2. 7:34, while our town is now called affluent, not everyone who lives here is. The water and sewer increase are going to be hard on some of us..

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  12. I doubt the sewer rate increase will hurt anyone , tho the % sounds big drinking one less Starbucks a week would cover it

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    1. Add up everything the city has raised over the last two years, and all those lattes now equal a case of Dom.

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    2. I don't buy starbucks.

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    3. Use your imagination 9:19 - try to think what it is like for people who notice $30 more a month in their bills. It'll be a stretch for you, clearly, but give it a try.

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    4. A necessary step in any gentrification process is to make people believe that the constant incremental hikes in the costs of city services are insignificant.

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