The City Council meeting begins at 6:30PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall. I expect it to be a very long meeting.
Please come out and tell you City Council...
...Their hidden tax on your water must stop NOW. (10% of your water bill covers public safety salaries and benefits.)
...The timing couldn't be worse. (Extremely high unemployment and foreclosure rates in a very poor economy.)
...The "business-as-usual" mentality of infrastructure management must change. (For decades city management has refused to spend a penny of the General Fund on the infrastructure and has relied on state and federal grants which are quickly drying up.)
...The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association believes, as do many, that the City's Prop 218 Notification did not comply with state law. This could trigger dozens of law suits from homeowner associations and others who did not receive any notice.
...The City ranks among the worst in Southern California for water conservation efforts. A recent Sierra Club survey of 122 agencies gave Fullerton 8 out of 20 points for their efforts. Their were only 16 agencies which scored worse!
...Can the residents and water consumers of Fullerton really trust a City in which customers are assessed hidden taxes to support poor management practices? NO!
The General Fund, the core of the City's budget, received $2.4-million in 2010, thanks to the hidden tax. The FY2011-2012 budget expects 80% of the General Fund to cover public safety salaries and benefits. That $2.4-million windfall will go up 7.8% if the Council approves this rate hike. Tell your City Council NO!
Here is a recent blog post stating in more detail why this rate hike is wrong for Fullerton right now.
The increase would raise water revenue by 7.8% but it is not clear how that increase would be spread among different rate classes. Some will feel the increase more than others. This cloud is just one of the many reasons I oppose this rate increase.
Other reasons include the hidden water tax, economic timing, city management's long-standing philosophy on infrastructure, the likely law suits due to improper notice by the City, shortsighted conservation efforts, and the general feeling of distrust by consumers.
10% of every water bill gets diverted or skimmed from the water fund and transferred into the City's General Fund. 80% of the General Fund goes to cover public safety employee benefits. Outside of City Hall only a handful of people know about this tax. In my opinion, it gives the appearance that the unions are embezzling public funds. The General Fund does not contribute any funds back into the water system. Removing this hidden tax would allow the water system to retain about $2.5-million for pipe replacement.
For decades, city management has turned a blind eye to the infrastructure. Unless the repairs or replacement was in a redevelopment district, the City would put of any work. Instead, the city sought to spend $6-million on moving a McDonalds 200 feet, $30-million* in bonds for housing (*will amount to more than $50-million when paid off), and more than $12-million to revamp the Lions Field athletic complex. Meanwhile, our water lines are failing, our roads are crumbling, our streetlights broken, and who knows what else is in disrepair. The proven ability of city officials, from council members to department heads, to go along with whatever hot new trend presented itself despite the obvious deficiencies in our infrastructure is unforgiveable. While some were getting bronze plaques with their names on it, the rest of us are left to foot the bill. Enough already!
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has indicated that the Proposition 218 rate increase notification received by some water customers last month does not comply with the requirements of the law.
A recent survey of 122 public agencies by the Sierra Club shows
For these reasons and more, I strongly oppose this water rate increase.
As a side note, water rates will have to increase; it is just a matter of time. However, I believe our city can and should do better to serve the public before considering any rate hikes.