I was informed of your mayor’s comments about the city of Dixon and water rates. As the former vice-mayor of Dixon, I feel your readers need to hear the truth. I would hope what follows also educates Mayor Enea and his fellow council members.
I do not know who on our present council or what member of staff doesn’t know who makes up the Dixon Solano Water Agency (DSWA), the joint powers authority between the city of Dixon and the Solano Irrigation District (SID). For Mayor Enea to claim he spoke with “Dixon officials” and then say they told him the “Solano Conservation District” administers one half of our water system makes me doubtful of any of his subsequent statements, specifically his crocodile tears concern for law enforcement in your community.
The city of Dixon has two water purveyors, the Dixon Solano Water Agency and the California Water Company. The city of Dixon is a partner with the Solano Irrigation District in the joint powers authority which was terminated in August of 2012. The city is in current negotiations to find another operator of the system until such time as the city can assume full control of operations. The city and SID do indeed determine the water rates for their portion of the system.
As a result of three councilmen in Dixon looking at the financial records from 2008 on and delving deeply into the budget charges of both the city and SID, it was determined that rate increases simply to fund onerous and unreasonable charges was not in the public’s best interest. We believed that we could find others, including our own city, who could operate the water system at rates at or below the current amounts charged.
Dixon has one of the lowest rates in our County for water. Our council doesn’t believe in raising rates simply because our rates are low. On the other hand, Cal Water’s rates are twice that of the city’s. Dixon’s council did vote to double our water rates but only to build reserves in anticipation of taking over the system. Rates will be reduced once the city has a better handle on operating expenses. I did not vote for this rate increase. My philosophy is you raise rates after determining your costs.
What I am saying is that cities have a duty to their rate payers to provide these basic services in a cost effective manner. You don’t do that by listening to consultants, such as Willdan, who are given numbers and information designed for a specific end result. If your council is unwilling to do that, perhaps it is a time for a new council whose members can do basic math.
Cal Water is a private company regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. While there is no 218 process, direct protests to water rate increases are brought in public hearings to an administrative law judge for the CPUC. I attended our city’s hearing although I don’t even live in the purveyor’s area because, as a member and vice president of the Dixon Chapter of the Solano County Taxpayers Association, citizens of my city are impacted and I serve all of them.
It is my belief that the CPUC holds these hearings procedurally but pays little attention to public input amounting to whining. However, when you present facts such as “the rate increase is intended to fund one time costs but the rate increase doesn’t terminate after those costs are paid”, it gives those at the CPUC an issue with which to work.
As to the other aspect of Mayor Enea’s incorrect and typical bureaucratic response, that of releasing parcel numbers, he is attempting to withhold public documents from citizens with a valid purpose in using them. Utility records are protected by law from release (although this right may be waived by any council), but parcel numbers and who owns the parcels in question, are public records available from any county recorder worth his salt.
I would suggest if Mayor Enea wants to protect privacy, he also needs to look into hiding the county registrar of voters database, which is also available to the public. Birthdates, telephone numbers, and email addresses are part of the information available in Solano County to anyone running for public office.
If Ms. Westfall in her response on September 21st to your September 20th article is correct in detailing the inaccuracies, errors, and out of date status of your county assessor/recorder lists, there are indeed bigger problems than who the mayor thinks should be contacted by opponents of this rate increase. My recommendation to any interested citizen of the county or Crescent City would be to file a Grand Jury complaint with specifics proving the points. If your Grand Jury is corrupt, then the State Attorney General needs to be contacted. Litigation is also a possibility if all else fails.
My questions to the citizens of Crescent City are why is the city just now realizing they are facing a bankrupt water district and exactly what financial aspects of running your water system have changed? In Dixon, staff salaries were pushed into the water enterprise fund in an effort to prevent bankruptcy to the city brought on by unsustainable salaries and benefits.
Rather than playing a shell game with the citizens’ tax money, your council should be reducing expenditures if revenues are insufficient to cover their operating costs. Citizens are often looked at as cash cows. Budgetary restraint is rare in this day and age of burgeoning bureaucracy that produces nothing but restraints on the freedom of our country’s citizens. Balancing the budget shouldn’t be done on the ratepayers’ backs. Think about it.
Michael J. Ceremello, Jr.
Former Vice Mayor and Councilman, City of Dixon