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This is pretty much in line with the Tea Party's poor performance with their 2018 anti-UUT effort known as Measure D. Never had an anti-tax measure in Sierra Madre done as badly as that one. Now their water and sewer rate hike Prop 218 strategies were revealed last night for all to see, and boy did they ever stink the place up.
Let's be honest, we're talking about the two worst run so-called citizen-led campaigns to control water rates and utility taxes the City of Sierra Madre has yet seen. It is hard to believe that Sierra Madre actually once had a reputation for being a town that could successfully stand up to its city government over taxes and water rates. That's certainly dead in the water now.
Three times in the not too distant past efforts to raise utility taxes were defeated at the polls. 2010, 2012 and 2014. Then the Tea Party arrived into town, Measure D was concocted, and everything went south pronto. The result being Sierra Madre's ability to realistically fight tax and rate increases is now a distant memory.
The city expected that people would not understand much about water and sewer rate issues, and those who showed up to talk last night proved them right. I don't think a single one of last night's speakers spent ever spent much time to try and understand the real moving forces behind rate and tax increases in Sierra Madre. Instead they bought into a bunch of ridiculous and patently false nonsense, and just rolled with that instead.
Rates and taxes constantly go up in Sierra Madre because of debt. Water bond debt, and CalPERS debt. The city just shipped out a whopping $5 million dollar balloon payment to CalPERS in order to ward off potential financial insolvency in the next couple of years. $28.5 million dollars is what the City of Sierra Madre had owed to CalPERS. Including interest.
Let me ask you. Do you really think you've seen your last tax hike?
Bond debt, which consumes a considerable chunk of the water department's budget, had more than doubled over the last decade and a half before it was only modestly refinanced last year. Why? Because some fools in 2003 decided it was smart to make interest only payments on that debt for a decade and a half. At a cost of millions of dollars to water rate payers.
Ever wonder why water infrastructure is as bad as it is? Could it be because every spare dime the water department ever had was being sent to various east coast banks to pay for ridiculously expensive and badly financed bond debt? And will continue to do so well into the 2030s?
Here's a question for you. Did you know that some of the people who cooked up that interest only payment water bond scheme, and also gave away the farm to CalPERS, are the same folks who are now leading the charge to establish a parcel tax so they can pay $9 million dollars to raze and replace a Library building that doesn't really need to be replaced?
It does all tie together quite nicely.
And do you know what else? Based on what I saw last night, I'll bet they get away with it.