In response to last week's commentary on water rates
Dave Delgardo wrote in the Reveille’s featured column on April 29, 2021, “Cloverdalians need to foot the bill for the increasing costs of delivering high-quality water and wastewater services.” No one disputes that fact. However, absorbing potential 100% increases in water and wastewater rates in the years to come is ludicrous. Dave apparently did not read the city’s mailer thoroughly and/or he’s misinformed.
Here are a few points to consider:
1. Use local impact fees and the city’s share of the Fed’s trillions for infrastructure revitalization: According to the city, “Other revenues to the utilities include impact fees paid by new development.” These have yet to be defined and presented to the public as has been asked about for more than six months. It appears the bulk of the potpourri of capital projects is heaped predominantly on the backs of ratepayers and not from impact fees and not from available federal or state infrastructure bills.
2. Cloverdalian water customers are told, “Periodic rate adjustments are necessary to ensure a fair and proportionate cost of providing services ...” The unreasonable percentage increases for the next five years plus the added drought surcharges (up to 40% each month) plus the fines for the water police visiting your neighborhood to cite violations, coupled with similar massive increases during years six through 10 (to pay for a new treatment plant) will drive a homeowner’s $100 monthly water bill to beyond $400 per month. This is much more than the cost of most residential electric bills.
3. The rationale given for double digit increases each year is “capital program needs.” Yet, these capital programs have been challenged without a good rationale given for many of them and certainly no written responses to the direct challenges made from November 2020 through April 2021. The city manager has yet to clearly answer these challenges and provide a rationale for moving forward with this extensive list of capital improvements.
Until these points are addressed, fair rate increases beyond a 3 to 5 percent level should not go forward. “C’mon, man,” as our president likes to intone, “Do your homework.”
Zoe Strickland reported on April 29, 2021, “According to Mark Hildebrand of Hildebrand Consulting, who performed the city’s water rate study, the proposed water rates represent a cumulative increase of 67% over five years (down from the 84% increase proposed in November) and the proposed wastewater rates represent a cumulative increase of 51% (down from the 119% proposed in November).”
Does this mean Cloverdalians are supposed to be happy about double digit increases even as water customers in Santa Rosa grouse over single-digit increases in their water bill?
Keep in mind however, that most of the remaining increases for Cloverdale water customers have been deferred to year 6 of the study, which requires another double-digit increase. This sleight of hand has not been clearly disclosed to the public.