Friday, August 1, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Can we really afford higher water rates?

By
From page A12 | January 05, 2014 |

By John Munn

If you want to vote on whether water rates should be nearly tripled over the next five years, now is the time to sign the local initiative petition on water rates.

Last year, the Davis City Council voted to increase water rates over a five-year period, primarily to raise revenue for a surface water project. The true cost of this increase has been obscured in two ways.

First, the council changed the city services billing cycle from every other month to monthly. While doubling postage and other administrative costs, this cut by half the number that ratepayers see as the apparent cost of water and other city services.

Second, the council staged the new rates to increase over time, with the current water cost being similar to or, in some cases, less than the previous rates. This will be followed by annual rate increases for five years until city water costs nearly three times more than it does now.

Hide-the-pea measures may be politically clever, but will not help in the long run. There are already plans for water costs to go even higher in the future. While providing information at a hearing about the then-proposed rate increase, city staff presented a chart showing that water revenue will need to double again after five years to pay for the surface water project. This means that water costs will need to go up again and will cause Davis water rates to be four or five times more than they are today.

We have one, last chance to decide whether the Davis community can afford such a major increase in water rates, which would eventually take close to $40 million per year out of our economy. Petitions to qualify an initiative overturning the new water rates are now being circulated for signatures by registered voters in Davis. These petitions must be turned in by late January or early February.

This is permitted under Proposition 218, which allows voting on rate changes. Court decisions, however, have restricted use of an initiative to set rates. So the Davis water rates initiative has been limited to repealing the new rates.

Since its water rates decision, the City Council also has voted to increase sewer rates, is considering garbage pickup rate increases, has been informed that millions of dollars in road maintenance work is needed, and is now facing a multimillion-dollar deficit in the city’s general fund for which a tax increase is being considered.

Making the overall picture even worse, major water users — including Old Willowbank, Village Homes, El Macero and the city of Davis itself — have considered developing their own, separate systems for irrigation water because of the new, much higher water rates. If any of these areas substantially reduce their city water use, the loss in city water system volume would require even higher water rates for remaining users to pay off bonds and for other fixed costs.

Can we really pay for all of this? Sticking one’s head in the sand is not going to make these problems go away.

The most frequent question about the water rates initiative is whether we have already voted on this. The answer is no. Measure I went before Davis voters at a mail-only special election early last March and was passed by a narrow majority of the 40 percent of voters who returned ballots. This authorized the building of a surface water project “subject to the adoption of water rates.” Therefore, water rates were not presented to the voters as part of Measure I.

In addition, most voters did not receive Measure I voter guides until at least a week after the mail-only ballots arrived. During this time, more than 30 percent of all returned ballots were received from voters who did not see the concerns about future water rates included in arguments against Measure I.

Meanwhile, the message coming from better-financed proponents of Measure I was that the quantity and quality of Davis groundwater are inadequate for future needs. These and other claims by Measure I proponents have turned out to be either not true or, at best, not confirmed.

So many voters were both prevented from receiving relevant information and, to use a polite term, misinformed by proponents during the Measure I election. This is not likely to be repeated in an election about water rates.

To sign the Davis water rates initiative petition or to get copies for distribution, please send an email message to ccdvr@att.net or call 530-753-7529. Time is limited, so prompt attention is needed to bring water rates to the voters.

— John Munn is a Davis resident and a member of Yolo Rate Payers for Affordable Public Utility Services, which has sued the city of Davis over its current water rates.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

What’s the buzz?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

 
Davis Reads book project focuses on veterans

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Carbahal and Company celebrates 30 years

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
UCD chancellor is coming up for five-year review

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

A week of groundwater news in the Year of Groundwater

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Candidate goes homeless to showcase economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Increase in health plan costs is slowing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Kashkari’s campaign coffers depleted

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Parents can learn all about IEPs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

10 essential herbs are focus of Davisite’s talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Bee beard photo wins award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Businesses can learn about PR strategies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Enjoy films, beer at benefit Friday night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Target hosts National Night Out celebration

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Digital device use is up among school-age children

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
 
Backpacks for Kids launches annual donation drive

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Seniors share homes for savings, companionship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
City of Davis recruits for its advisory commissions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Farmers Market shoppers can pick up free reusable produce bags

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

It’s not what they thought

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Protect and expand Medicare

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

It’s insurance against extremes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Political cartoon was offensive

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Let’s gas up for TAPS

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Railroads, listen up and respond

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

 
Treat children as refugees

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Sports

Swimley recalls a budding star in Giants’ Susac

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Nick Watney leads Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stuart named to outstanding placekicker watch list

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Going, going, gone: A’s trade Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
UCD women’s golf tees up tough schedule

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’: Droll sci-fi hijinks

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Barnyard Theatre adds ‘Pinky’ performance after sold-out opening night.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

WOH to hold auditions for ‘Zuccotti Park’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘Tunes on Tuesdays’ come to Freeman Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Business

Grand Cherokee: A grand, and long, ride

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Patricia Eileen Hershberger

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
John Vernon McLane Wayland

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Don Fife

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Nancy Jane Fife

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Clara Meyerhoff

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, August 1, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A6