BY DONNA WESTFALL
Back in 2007, when we were ignorant about how City Hall works, we actually went in and counted enough protests to stop the sewer rate from doubling.
This is what we did wrong. We didn’t sue the City. That’s the only way this City listens to the people. We should have sued them and had the vote nullified.
Then, instead of doubling the sewer rate on a $43.8 million wastewater treatment plant SRF (state revolving fund) loan , the sewer would have been in default faster than 3 years. After using their general fund dollars, they could have notified the State that they made a boo-boo and miscalculated having the support of the cash cows aka ratepayers.
Other Prop 218 protests have failed for a number of reasons. None of them due to the numbers of people that want to protest, because 9 out of 10 people signed protests. But rather it’s taken a while to figure out the easiest way to get those protests counted as valid and not disqualified.
Take for example the couple that lives together. A knock on the door discloses that they pay a sewer bill. One of them signs the protest ballot and come to find out they were not the one that signed up for water/sewer service and thus their vote is disqualified.
One way to avoid that is to get out your sewer bill. Sign or print right on the bill, “I protest the sewer rate increase.” Then sign it. If your name is on the bill, you get to sign it. The bill contains your account number. that satisfies the elements of a legal protest and you will be counted.
Let’s get back to basics. What constitutes a valid protest?
* Your name with your signature.
* The words “I protest or oppose the sewer rate increase.”
* Your address or account number
* If you own more than one property, you protest each one.
So, the process to protest is easy. We’re getting the word out early this time so we’re ahead of the curve.
This is what has to happen next: the City Council will put increased sewer rates on a future agenda. The City Clerk will mail out a notice of the rate increase to all owners and tenants. Then there’s 45 days in which to get 50% plus 1 protests in to stop the rate increase.
That’s the how’s of protesting.
Here are the why’s: The City suggested to the State Water Quality Control Board on November 18th that they will need another $36 million for phase 2.
Doesn’t that suggest to you that there will be no end to sewer rate increases…ever?
Most of us are at $100/month for water and sewer rates. Want to go for $200/month?
Stay tune for further developments. Start spreading the word. The sooner the town knows what’s going on, the more efficient the protest will be handled.