Vote no on Measure I

By From page A6 | February 20, 2013

Please vote no on Measure I, perhaps the most important and far-reaching city ballot measure ever.

Measure I would burden city residents with huge increases in water rates. Even Measure I proponents concede that the average water bill will triple. This is a low-ball estimate made before contractors bid on the project, before likely cost overruns, and one that ignores the burden on your typical Davis homeowner.

It is not inconceivable that water rates could quintuple by the end of the decade under a rate structure that is as arcane as it is complex to most residents. It took the ever-diligent and vigilant Bob Dunning months to deduce that under the proposed rate structure our six-month summer water rate would be almost six times higher than in the winter months.

Even homeowners who parsimoniously irrigate their yards will be hit with massive increases in their water bills. We will be transformed from a beautiful “garden city” college town into a city landscape scarred with browned and burned-out yards.

Many residents will no longer be able to vote for parcel taxes to support the schools, parks and libraries that make Davis such an outstanding place to live.

Finally, in entering into a partnership with Woodland, we undertake a huge risk. If rates, as most agree, are going to be burdensome to Davis residents, they are going to be ruinous to our Woodland counterparts. When Moody’s very recently downgraded Woodland’s bond rating, a major part of the rationale was “the city’s below-average assessed value and resident wealth.”

According to data from Woodland’s Finance Department, residential annual water utility shut-offs have increased from 871 in the 2007-08 fiscal year to more than 1,500 shutoffs in the past three fiscal years.

If Woodland was no longer able to sustain its payments, Davis would have only two options: Abandon the project entirely or pay Woodland’s share of the costs.

Unlike Woodland, Davis is under no immediate, or even medium-term, pressure to obtain surface water. At such time as this becomes pressing, Davis can examine several alternatives, including the only superficially explored option of securing water from West Sacramento.

Daniel Cornford


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