Protest CCWD’s excessive water rate increases in writing by Tuesday July 14 

Letter

Posted by on Sat, July 11, 2009

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Chart by Kevin Lansing
Following-up on my letter about CCWD's failed leadership,  the  board of directors of CCWD will hold a public hearing on Tuesday July 14 at 7 pm to discuss a possible 12 percent increase in residential water rates. The board will only accept written protests against the proposed rate increase which are delivered by U.S. Mail or in person (no email) and received on or before Tuesday July 14. CCWD's water rates have experienced explosive growth since 1999 and are projected to spike even higher over the next several years (see accompanying chart). Where is all this money going? According to CCWD's proposed budget 2009-2010 budget, the rate increase will be used in part to increase employee salaries by 10 percent and to increase employee retirement contributions by 13 percent. Both increases appear excessive in light of current economic conditions and past rapid growth in CCWD employee salaries and benefits. As elected officials, the CCWD board has a duty to act as good stewards of the public's money. They do not appear to be fullfilling their duty. A sample protest letter is on the next page.

Sample Letter

July 10, 2009   (via U.S. mail)
Board of Directors
Coastside County Water District
766 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, California 94019

Subject: Input for July 14, 2009 Public Hearing on Proposed 12 Percent Rate Increase

Members of the Board of Directors:

As a CCWD customer, I appreciate the opportunity to provide input to the public hearing on the water district’s proposed rate increase.

Since FY 1999, CCWD’s minimum residential water rates have increased from $1.85 per hundred cubic feet (hcf) to a proposed rate of $3.99 per hcf in the coming year. For nearly a decade, CCWD’s residential water rates have risen at a pace that is more than double the rate of consumer price inflation over the same period. According to CCWD’s proposed 2009-2010 budget, the rate increase will be used to increase employee salaries by 10 percent and to increase employee retirement contributions by 13 percent. Both increases appear excessive in light of current economic conditions and past rapid growth in CCWD employee salaries and benefits. As elected officials, the CCWD board has a duty to act as good stewards of the public’s money. I urge you reject the proposed rate increase.

Sincerely,

Kevin J. Lansing Half Moon Bay


I wonder why the increase has to be such a whopping percentage all at once.  If CCWD BoD’s insist that the rate is appropriate, perhaps they should slowly scale the double digit rate of 12 % increase over time - give people an opportunity to adjust to their own budgets for household, landscaping usage.  I don’t know what other districts do, but I doubt the percentage is so staggering.
$1.85 per hundred cubic feet to $3.99 is huge.

“...the rate increase will be used in part to increase employee salaries by 10 percent ....” 
I don’t see anything in the linked Draft Budget that supports that statement.  The total for salaries is increasing by 10%; where that is being spent is not indicated.  It could be for new employees, increased overtime, a 1% pay increase combined with other costs, or something else.  Author Lansing, please provide a citation for the 10% pay increase.

“...The total for salaries is increasing by 10%; where that is being spent is not indicated…”

How many organizations are increasing salaries by 10 percent in this economy? How many organizations are increasing employer retirement contributions by 13 percent? How many organizations are raising the price of their products by 12 percent?

The real underlying problem with CCWD is that it is a monopoly—-but one that is not really regulated in the traditional sense. The only “regulation” that takes place is through the election process. And we all know that it is very difficult to unseat these entrenched Old Guard politicians who have spent years handing out favors to their developer friends. That’s why we need term limits at CCWD and the HMB City Council.