Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee Calls On Council to Rescind Water Tax

Last night the Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Fullerton city Council that the "in-lieu" franchise fee, or "water tax" as it has become known as, should be suspended indefinitely.

Another motion was made to recommend an audit of the Water Fund.  The motion failed 5-5.

Some members stated they had enough reports and felt spending more money would not provide any answers.  One member even said that no matter what is discovered in the audit, it would not be enough for some.

Others, like myself, feel it is a disservice to the public to not account for the misappropriated funds.  As we look to answer the question of how much was overcharged to ratepayers, we realize we cannot arrive at a fact-based answer.  Instead, the city's staff will have the Ad Hoc Committee look at what could or perhaps should be charged to the Water Fund.  That may be an appropriate step going forward but without an audit we will never know where our money went.

Water System Manager Dave Schickling offered up the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report as an audit that covered the Water Fund.  Unfortunately, the CAFR does not look at the Water Fund in any detail.  Instead, the accounting consultant was provided total dollars into and out of the Water Fund.  This may show that the Fund is operating in the black but does nothing to ensure that the transfers were legal or that the funds were used in support of water projects and system management.

I asked the Director of Engineering, Don Hoppe, and the Water System Manager, Dave Schickling, about how Maintenance Services bills their time to repair water leaks and the street that they dig up.  They said the time is all billed to the General Fund.  At the May 23, 2011 meeting the Water Rate Study showed that Maintenance Service accounted for 21% of the operations and maintenance of the water system.  This created some confusion, at least for me, because the Rate Study showed these maintenance costs as being part of the allocation from the Water Fund and not part of the franchise fee.  In the end, I am left to guess where at least $22.5-million was spent.

The chart below shows that Maintenance Services expenses accounted for 21% of the O&M expenses, "Other Expenses" as 2% (read the footnote on the chart to see what "other" refers to), and then the Franchise Charge at 11%.  According to the City, this chart represents all of the costs and expenses necessary to operate the Water System and consequently the Water Fund.

City Manager Joe Felz will be compiling what he believes to be a list a various "costs" to bring back before the Ad Hoc Committee.  The purpose would be for the Ad Hoc Committee to determine what "costs" are appropriately associated with and billed back to the Water Fund.

The Ad Hoc committee seemed somewhat unified in a desire to have only the actual costs billed to the Water Fund, but as we have seen, those "costs" are subject to staff interpretation.

Since last night's meeting, many members have expressed their concern over the way the entire Water Rate Study has been handled.

I think a large part of the problem has been the business-as-usual approach by staff to have a committee rubber stamp studies, reports, and recommendations all at the behest of city staff.

That's not to say the process yielded no results.  In fact, early in 2011 I made it my goal to end the water tax.  Last night, the first milestone was reached with the Ad Hoc Committee's recommendation.

As a final thought on water rates and the City's handling of this issue, I want to draw your attention to the City's Budget Study Session tomorrow.  The purpose of the meeting is for the City Manager and department managers to present their respective budgets.  This is where we find out how much of our money the City would like to spend and where they will spend it.  Even though the Ad Hoc Committee recommended that the City Council end the water tax completely, the City Manager, Joe Felz, intends to move the budget forward on the assumption that the General Fund will continue to receive a percentage of the Water Funds revenue.  So you see it is business as usual at the Fullerton City Hall.

Business as usual left us with an $8-million budget gap in the two-year budget for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.    The proposed budget for 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 will have a $5-million deficit with the ending of the water tax and the official plan is to ignore it.

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Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

Download AutoCAD's Educational Version