BY DONNA WESTFALL
HERE IS THE SAMPLE OF A BALLOT FOR PROTESTING THE UPCOMING SEWER RATE INCREASE. Feel free to make copies and pass them out. But get them to me so we can tabulate and make copies to double check against the City’s count.
Until the City Council deems it a priority to investigate the alleged fraud and corruption on the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), I do not and will not support another sewer rate increase. Instead of investigating, they censured me in 2009 to shut me up.
Plus they continue to give salary increases. That doesn’t make any sense to me during this recession. AND, the expansion component being 11.8% is ridiculously low. Realistically it’s more like 50%. (See article titled “The Art of Lying and How It Affects Our Sewer Rates” published here on March 31, 2014.
Ratepayers are only supposed to pay for operations and maintenance, NOT EXPANSION.
Following the water rate increase in January 2014, we’re hit once again with another increase… $2.51/month ($30/year and $810 over the next 27 years of the loan). This time for the sewer fund.
$2.51/month doesn’t seem so bad unless you haven’t got it. And by all accounts, the sewer fund will still be operating in the red. So, how long do you think it will be before they spring the next increase on us?
The NOTICE TO PROPERTY OWNERS they mailed out indicates there are approximately 3,800 households/businesses connected to the sewer plant. This is in contrast to Eric Wier’s report to the City Council in 2012 stating there were 4,500. So which is it? 3,800 or 4,500?
Do you want to know why we lost the last Prop 218 protest vote? It’s for a number of reasons, but the main reason is due to the fact that they wouldn’t accept as valid many of the protests by renters. The solution to that? It’s an easy one. All you have to do is include a copy of your water/sewer bill or your account number along with your protest ballot.
Also, we didn’t have enough volunteers. We had 20. We need 30 volunteers. We handed in over 2,200 protests. Should have been enough.
Also we were underfunded. This time, each person must give at least $1 per property so that we have enough money to pay for copies, advertising, gas, legal notices, and looking into organizing a taxpayers group. Last time, we forgot to ask for money from everyone, and instead paid a lot of expenses out of our own pockets – which is not fair. It’s really very simple. Would you rather pay $1 now or $30 this coming year in increased rates which presumably will never decrease? That’s what it boils down to. If you don’t have the money, then donate the time.
The HEARING date is May 19th at 6pm. That’s the last time to hand in protests. We don’t want to wait until the last minute. So let us know when you can help by making phone calls, knocking on doors, manning tables in front of the Water/Sewer Department on J Street near 3rd, post office and other areas around town. We start this coming week. We have 45 days. Should be plenty of time with enough people.
Just a couple of reminders. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A REGISTERED VOTER TO SIGN A PROTEST. All you need is to 1.) own the property OR 2.) be a renter that pays the water/sewer bill. (Don’t forget to include a copy of your bill or your account number.)
We want all ballots in our hands no later than the 15th so we don’t have to wonder if we have enough protests on the evening of the 19th.
When the City Council starts asking the hard questions about the WWTP and does investigations into the alleged fraud and corruption, then I’ll start supporting their concerns about the rate increases. Until then, they do not and will not have my support.
Questions? Call me at 707 951 3650.
Oh, there is another alternative suggested by Councilwoman Kathryn Murray. You can move out of the area, which many people have already done and many more are planning on doing.