Thu. Sep 24th, 2020

BY DONNA WESTFALL

Sometimes its gratifying to say, “I told you so.”  This is one of those times I wish I didn’t have to say that.

Over 2300  signatures were submitted to the city to protest the increase in sewer rates.  Our former City Clerk, Dianne Nickerson, only counted 1510.  A group of citizens sat and counted each and every signature with Ms. Nickerson for days and each day the totals changed. A recall was initiated and she decided to resign. Complaints were sent to the Grand Jury and they didn’t look deeply enough.

I was sued by Wahlund Construction, Stover Engineering, et  al for “material misrepresentations” set forth in the initiative to repeal the sewer rate increase and keep it off the 2010 ballot.

The city was warned that going to MBR (Membrane Bioreactor) technology was super expensive. They didn’t listen.

The city was warned that we were going into a recession, money was going to tighten up, businesses would close,  people would lose jobs and move out.  They acted like the 3 monkeys with their hands over their eyes, ears and mouth only there were 4 of them.

The city was told that per Proposition 218; expansion was to be paid for by developers; and only operations and maintenance paid for by ratepayers.  The ratepayers are on the hook for 100% of the $43.800,000 loan to the State.

The city was told by former Councilman Mike Scavuzzo that they had to do a Prop 218 vote BEFORE they even signed contracts or loans.  They went ahead, signed contracts, started construction and then 6 months later said they had to do the Prop 218 protest vote …. OOPS!  The city made a mistake.  A mistake my eye.  They knew what they were doing.  They were selling us a bill of goods.

The city was asked how they determined their 11.8% expansion component.  We were told it was by Willdan Engineering.  That was a mistake.  Willdan did the sewer rate study.  Oops!  They were off on their rates. Are you ready to pay even more?  How do you like the idea of $100/mo sewer bill for the vast majority?

When I complained to my fellow council members that it looked like Stover Engineering was triple billing on the WWTP project, they refused to do anything about it.

When I voted against $35,000 design error, they voted for it.

When I voted against an additional $4 million added to the Loan to extend it with the POISON PILL that only the State could reduce rates, they voted for it.

When I asked then Public Works Director, Jim Barnts, if he was getting any kickbacks; he never answered on the public record.  Plus, former Councilman Dennis Burns sputtered, “That’s not an appropriate question.”

What about the lab; the $2.5 million lab paying for itself in two and 1/2 years.  Was that a Jim Barnts fabrication? So, I was censured for asking those questions and “micro managing.”  What do you think about that now?  Do you wish my fellow council members could have asked better questions and started investigating a few things?

If you think you’re being ripped of, then they’re all appropriate questions.  I think I have been ripped off.  What about you?