By Donna Westfall – August 12, 2016 – First a note: I started www.crescentcitytimes.com because the local newspaper was not reporting the news accurately, fairly or honestly….. in my opinion. People in this town deserved to know more if they cared to read another side.
I started the Crescent City-Del Norte County Taxpayers Association because there were numerous tax related issues that couldn’t be adequately dealt with simply by writing about them.
When the Board of Directors of the tax association decided to vote on the 20% sewer rate increase, there was lively discussion before a vote was taken.
Naturally we all want to see sewer rates go down. But, it wouldn’t go down for everyone. And it wouldn’t stay down for very long for those single family households. Even with the elimination of all interest, and a graduated repayment plan for the next four years, the City still had to raise rates.
And then there’s the problem of expansion which ratepayers are NOT responsible for paying.
Herein is the rebuttal to the City’s argument prepared by the tax association:
City Hall made an important decision about our financial health by indebting our community to a $43.8 million dollar loan on a sewer system that was primarily expansion, while disregarding that nearly 60% of those who live here are at or below poverty level.
Under Proposition 218, developers are required to pay for expansion. The City of Crescent City maneuvered the expansion component in a manner to burden rate payers with repayment of the $43.8 million dollar loan, while giving developers a considerable financial break. The City did so by promoting a false expansion component of 11.8%. Substantial evidence exists which places 70% as a more accurate expansion component. When the City was called upon to substantiate its 11.8% expansion component, the City reported they had destroyed all documents dealing with the expansion component.
An equitable rate structure would have had developers, such as our previous Public Works Director (and major developer) Jim Barnts, paying for the expansion portion of the overpriced plant. While rates are being maneuvered to bring financial advantage to developers, other aspects of our community suffer as we lose more businesses, families and retirees when our already doubled sewer bill goes yet higher.
Voting yes on Measure Q will only help the City cover its fraud. The Crescent City/Del Norte County Taxpayers Association calls the City on the municipal fraud perpetrated against the public and asks you to please vote NO on Measure Q. Enough is enough.
VOTE NO ON MEASURE Q!
5 thoughts on “What is Measure Q About: Part 4”
It seems to me, as a County resident, that an important distinction may exist between supervisorial candidates — with regard to the virtual disenfranchisement of County ratepayers on the Measure Q question. It may be useful to ask if each of them supports or opposes Measure Q’s placement on the City ballot only.
Bill, read today’s article, “The problem with sewer rates or why you should vote No on Measure Q.” A good question for Candidate Murray is as follows:
“While the WWTP was being built, I complained about the rigged bid, double and triple billing, inflated invoices, overcharges, change orders and asked Jim Barnts if he was getting any kickbacks as reliable sources told me that up to $15 million of the $44 mil was used in kickbacks in various ways.
Ms. Murray, you censured me. I want to know what you will do differently if elected to the BOS if someone brings up these problems on future projects. Will you ignore them? Will you trust staff? Will you call for an investigation? Will you offer whistle blower protection or will you censure them too?”
A large portion of that debt can be traced to Crescent City allowing Pelican Bay to be addded to the city water system prior to its opening. The cost of running water & sewer lines all the way to Malarky Farm was assumed by the City when that area was clearly not part of the City. Of course CDC never paid those costs as had been agreed. Additionaly the quota of water taken from the Smith River was compromised. The water quota may not be increased since the Smith River is now a Wild & Scenic & NRA.
Lin Ryan, Again, what is your point? How you chose to allocate the debt at this point is irrelevant. Suffice it to say that the City Council, the City Staff and a consultant used very poor judgement by encumbering Crescent City with an over the top system which even in the best case scenario it could not pay for. For the ten years prior to the construction of the new sewer system there had been little to no growth in the City and County wide for that matter. It should have been a clear indicator to any one paying any kind of attention that a $43.8 million dollar sewer plant with nearly twice the capacity necessary for the City was not a smart decision. Since that time the growth in the city has continued to decline so that there are even fewer people to pay the freight. This has been born out by the continual need for the City to raise water and sewer bills to pay for that lack of judgement. Whether or not there was fraud involved, the history of the project and how the City fathers handled events both prior and in the years that followed does not make it much of a stretch that fraud had occurred. It is pretty difficult to believe that every one in City government was that stupid as to not question the very size of the project in light of the nearly complete lack of growth for the years prior to the debt obligation.
What is also telling is that those who sat on the council for the past few terms have all bailed out in this up coming election cycle. This tells me that the incoming City Council is almost guaranteed a rough ride at the outset. I have been following this for some time now and common sense tells me that there are no easy answers. The biggest problem as I see it is that Kathryn Murray, who was front and center through the entire development of this fiasco, is taking her complete lack of judgement and common sense towards a seat on the County’s Board of Supervisors. It is my hope and many others in the County, that this attempt will be fruitless for her. The Board of Supervisors already has suffered long enough from “bad actors” and does not need another in the form of Kathryn Murray. While I wish who ever takes a seat after January on the City Council has the wisdom to solve what seems to be unsolvable, it is truly unfortunate that those that created the mess won’t be around to face the consequences of their appalling lack of ability to do what was right for the citizens of the City.