Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Measure P is cost-free

By Sue Greenwald

I am grateful that The Davis Enterprise editorial board took the time to talk with both sides of the Measure P issue, and that they agree that we should either dispense with the new water rate structure (the consumption-based fixed rates), or at a minimum switch from a summer month to a 12-month basis.

However, I don’t understand why The Enterprise has repeated the city’s over-the-top scare tactics as fact. None of them has validity.

I can say categorically: The water project will not fall through simply because we roll back the rates to last year’s levels for a few months, and that is all that would happen if Measure P passes. It would take only a few months to complete a new Proposition 218 process.

The City Council could promptly give firm instructions to a professional rate consultant (not yet another citizens’ advisory committee) to come up with a new rate structure that approximates an equal cost per gallon both between individuals and across classes of users.

Any small resulting shortfall in revenue that might result from reverting to 2013 rates for a few months would be easily covered by our large water fund reserve. In the unlikely scenario that a bridge loan were necessary, the costs wouldn’t even show up as noise given the magnitude of the expenses of this project. Hence, the project wouldn’t fall through and there would be no associated costs or penalties.

The statement that Measure P could cause us to lose low-interest state loan opportunities is also false. The city likely has lost its low-interest state loan possibility because the City Council made a poor choice by opting for a no-bid contract with a multinational company and the associated privatization of the operations. State law prohibits giving low-interest state loans to projects with privatized operations.

So yes, we have probably lost our low-interest state loans, and yes, that could cost the city more than $100 million if The Enterprise’s cost information is correct. Does it have any bearing whatsoever on Measure P? Absolutely not. The council and staff have known about this loan problem for some time. Not to have shared this knowledge with the public is bad, but it is unconscionable for City Hall to have used this problem of its own making as a campaign weapon against Measure P.

Please vote yes on Measure P for fairer rates.

— Sue Greenwald is a former mayor of Davis.



Special to The Enterprise

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