Monday, May 21, 2018

Prop 218: New "Water Rate Adjustment" Coming Down (Now with Informative 1 O'clock Update Added)

 Expensive date.
At tomorrow night's Sierra Madre City Council meeting yet another water rate adjustment "process" will be kicking off. Is it as severe as past ones? I have not deciphered that yet. Raftelis Financial Consultants will be in the house once again to emcee the festivities, having been rehired about a year ago.

Long time readers of this blog must be feeling a bit of deja vu. We have been down this road many times over the last ten years. Rate and tax increases seem to come down here on a two year cycle, and usually right after a City Council election has been held. This instance fits that pattern, with the last water rate increases happening in 2014, and 2016 being a utility tax year.

Proposed are water rate hikes, sewer rate hikes, tier width adjustments, and the usual balderdash about meter sizes. Below are the water rate increases, before and after. You can link to all of that rhythm in its original setting here.



As you can see, the increases are to those with 3" and 4" meter sizes. The big boys, and not most residential users. But remember, there are also the other increase categories as well, which you will have to look up for yourself. Hopefully you'll be able explain all that to me in the comments. As always, things are not immediately clear. Water rate adjustment processes being famous for their transparency challenges.

Here was the rationale for all of this in a staff report issued on May 9, 2017 (link). This was where the umpteenth rehiring of Raftellis was discussed. They were rehired at considerable expense and have been busily working on this for the last year.


In the agenda report for this item, which is the last one on tomorrow's schedule, there are some tweaks to the rationales for charging residents more for water. Here is how this is all justified now.


Pretty vague in my opinion, but these things often are. Coming right on the heels of that $1,000,000 dollar water meter spend however, asking for more money now does seem insensitive. But I suspect City Hall is not too worried about it.

This will be a Proposition 218 "process," meaning you do have the right to run around town trying to get people to sign paperwork protesting these increases. It is a lot of great exercise, but has been something residents have never quite been able to pull off in the past. We came close once, but then City Manager Elaine Aguilar threw out just enough signatures to guarantee that particular Prop 218 effort failed.

Under Proposition 218, the amount of the charge imposed upon any parcel of land must not exceed the proportional cost of service attributable to the parcel. The costs of water (and sewer) rates and charges should be recovered from classes of customers in proportion to the cost of serving those customer classes. Prop 218 provides that utility rates cannot be arbitrary and capricious. Raftelis has strictly followed the guidelines of Proposition 218 in order to ensure that the proposed rates are equitable for all customers. Critical to the design of the utility rates is the nexus between the costs incurred and the rates established. Once revenue goals are set, there is limited flexibility in rate design, other than pass-through costs of imported water or electricity costs and modest cost of living adjustments for subsequent years, both of which are built into the new rate structure.

The Proposition 218 election process requires a 45-day notice and a public hearing.

At the direction of Council, staff will mail protest ballots (Attachment C) to explain the process as well as findings for the proposed new rates.

All protests will be due at City Hall on July 24, 2018. If 50% +1 one of the needed protests are not received at the public hearing scheduled for that evening, then the water (etc.) rate increases will go through. The staff report does not say 50% +1 of what, so that will need to be asked about.

One O'clock Update

I've been emailing back and forth with City Manager Gabe Engeland today, a fellow who somehow has remained committed to the fine art of transparency despite having worked here for a while. It does look like this will not be a very radical rate increase, and except for a very few unfortunate souls almost all will escape the unholy wrath of Water Wise Owl. This is what Gabe had to say:

"Here is the chart breaking down our water meters size by number of meters.  The 3” and 4” meters are typically institutional use, though they are relatively scarce in town. There are 8 meters in Sierra Madre that are 3” and 1 meter that is 4”, so a total of 9 meters out of 3,873 fall into this category. Apartments tend to have 1.5” or 2”, though this number will vary, and apts may have multiple meters serving the property.


It appears that unless you are one of those nine places with 3 inch or 4 inch water meters, you are going to get yourself a water rate decrease. I know, be still all of our troubled hearts. And if you are the proud owner of one of those nine afflicted facilities?

You're not going to be as happy as everybody else. Or at least that would be my understanding at this particular moment in time.

I'll let you know if any of that changes.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

35 comments:

  1. Aren’t most residents supplied with 3/4” or less? If so, then majority service charge is less under new proposed rates.

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  2. I think the part that got cut off was... followed by..."a parade with Waterwise Owl and his friends"....

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    Replies
    1. Is Water Wise Owl male or female? He/she has an androgynous vibe. Maybe WWO is transgender?

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    2. The Hot and Cold water handle placements are suspect.

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    3. Do they spin?

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    4. When preparing them, are Water Wise Owls baked or fried?

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    5. Try them sous vide method - very juicy.

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    6. The feathers look nice on hats, and are an important reminder to conserve.

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    7. Tastes like chicken.

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    8. I don't give a hoot.

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  3. Who is on the Water Subcommittee? What was their mandate? When do they meet? Are they governed by the Brown Act? Where is the subcommittee's agenda posted? Are they a subcommittee of another commission? Appointed to this subcommittee? By whom?

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    Replies
    1. Good question. Probably two city council members, thought the AR does not say.

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    2. Water Wise Owl, Wile E. Coyote, the "Trix Are For Kids" rabbit, and Glenn Lambdin.

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  4. Mod, is the city council meeting tonight? Monday not Tuesday as usual.

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    Replies
    1. You're right. I need sleep. I fixed it, I think.

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  5. So now Sierra Madre Ciy Council are targeting the low income (not the very low income) and Landlords.
    The water rate increase targets rentals, the only choice for Landlords to recoup the additional charge of water is to legally increase rents every other year until the offset is matched.

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  6. What size are the meters on apartment buildings?

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  7. The money will be spent fixing water mains. So what.

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  8. 7:58am So fool,it's alright if you have a posh job or are a council person such as youtself, but if you ain't, you gonna be forced to move. That's what.

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  9. Bad city management from the top on down, have put this town in financial disaster.
    CalPERS just had a 11% increase in investments, all city staff are doing great.
    The attitude of i lead a busy life and don't have time to be involved with council decisions has come back to bite us all in the butt.
    This current city council just repeats bad decisions from the past.

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  10. Looks like something of a divide and conquer strategy. A lot of buildings get slight rate cuts, others get increases. It is not across the board.

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  11. Divide and conquer. Whateer happened with Governor Jerry Brown's storm sewer runoff fees? The Governor also wanted to charge water fees for water going into a house and coming out of a house.

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  12. The Governor also wanted High Speed Rail, all we are getting is an overpriced, low speed train to nowhere...

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  13. Like the majority of residents, our meter is 3/4, and I'm not going to fight this one. There won't be many residents who are willing to go through that grueling effort.

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  14. Dont think any resident's are on board for walking door to door.
    Most that live in Sierra Madre is because of land values, the fact that Prop 13 Homeowners are dying off is a gain for local Real Estate Agent's.
    Throwing good money after bad is the new town motto.

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  15. Follow the money, since politicians can't be blamed nor prosecuted for their huge spending failures they just kick the can down the road all knowing to well that other politicians following them will simple raise the money by increasing taxes or apply huge fees to balance the budgets in those cities or states and play a game of chicken with the voters or residents.

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  16. I miss the old wild west days in Sierra Madre. Good government is just so dull. Can't we bring back Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran? They might have been awful on the City Council, but when they got their wacky wicky woo on were very entertaining.

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    Replies
    1. Trump has you covered.

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is what you do when you have a news site with articles getting less than 25 hits a day.

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  18. Hanashima in Alhambra off Garfield ave. better choice of fish.
    Breaking News: stolen car chase on T.V. West 60 off the 15.

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    Replies
    1. How does that other place get their fish through the tap? 4 inch meters?

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    2. Head first.

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  19. Now California get Prop. 68, many thanks Jerry Brown.

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