Water rate increase

Dear Editor:I have carefully reviewed the proposal to increase water rates, and I have calculated the projected increases as they would impact my property on the basis of my last eight water statements (a 16-month period). I find the proposal to be more of a sales pitch than a justification to support the dramatic increases that are called for. There is a lengthy recitation of cost increases resulting in a stated deficit of $2 million by July 2011. How much of a rate increase is actually required per rate payer/classification to cover this shortfall? The closing segment in the proposal seems to minimize the impact to the taxpayers, by stating that at 35 consumption units (CU), the bi-monthly charge would increase from $42 to $51, a mere $4.50 per month. This is a 21.4% increase. By 2015 this will balloon to a 104% increase! If the city has managed to go 16 years without an increase, why should rates more than double in a 4-year period? Surely, there must be more specific and concrete justifications for these increases. This proposal plays fast and loose with percentages and purported increases, but nothing is broken down into actual dollars that are needed to cover the shortfall, cost increases, and capital improvement requirements. Another fact not stated, is that this is a highly regressive increase. It will impact low usage consumers far more than others. At a 7 CU rate of consumption (my lowest utilization), the 2015 rate increase will not be 104%, but a whopping 137%. So seniors who live alone, or couples whose children are grown will bear a disproportionate share of the burden. My actual average rate increase will amount to 112% by 2015. I assure you my pay will not increase by that amount! I don't think our well intentioned City Council is trying to create a slush fund as suggested by one citizen in the local paper. I do strongly believe more justification is required, and a more gradual rate increase is called for. If rates were to increase 10% per year, for 10 years, they would still double, but to more than double the rates in just four short years seems very suspicious indeed! I urge the council members to reject this rate increase and go back to the drawing board for a more reasonable, fair and substantiated funding plan. -- Daniel Frederiksen, Downey Editor's note: The water rate increase was unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

********** Published: June 30, 2011 - Volume 11 - Issue 10