Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bob Dunning: Friends, Davisites, countrymen, lend me your ears


From page A2 | November 20, 2012 |

A WACKY PROPOSAL … I come not to bury the Water Advisory Committee, but to praise it … or maybe the other way around … I’m not sure … all I know is the recommendation the WAC made to the City Council about water rates is confusing in the extreme, even in a town where half the town has a Ph.D. and the other half thinks it should …

The plan is one of those only-in-Davis, first-in-the-nation things that makes me wonder if it was adopted for its rationale or simply because it allows our town to stake another claim to worldwide greatness …

I’m not sure I want to be a guinea pig when it comes to the cost of water … my fear is fueled by one committee member who said “This is Davis. This is something for us to do, something innovative, and if someone is going to innovate this type of reform, I think that we should be the ones to do it.” …

With all due respect to innovation and to being first on the planet to institute a water rate structure no one else has dreamed of, I’d much prefer fair and affordable when it comes to my family’s water bill … save your experiments for the Primate Center …

EVEN MORE ON THE WATER PLAN … one huge drawback to the WAC-approved plan the council will now grapple with is that the fixed-rate portion of your bill will be based on the previous year, which significantly discourages conservation because no matter how much you cut back, your rate is based strictly on what you used last year … if you had a particularly bad year water-wise — maybe Grandma and Grandpa came to live with you — you continue to pay a significant penalty for a long period of time …

Worse yet, the plan dramatically reduces the amount of water a household may use before moving into the punitive tier system, where the cost of water spikes considerably … the plan does not take into account household size before beginning the punishment, which is unfair in the extreme …

Simple fairness — not to mention the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — demands that each citizen of this town should have the right to a basic amount of water for regular daily needs at the exact same price every other citizen of this town is charged …

Tiers, meant to punish water wasters, should never be instituted before household size is taken into account … with the unreasonably low threshold for moving a household into Tier II ratepayers’ hell, large families or those who have taken in foster children or an ailing relative, will automatically be paying more per gallon than their neighbors, no matter how much they conserve …

It makes complete sense that a larger household should have a proportionately larger water bill than a smaller household … what doesn’t make sense is why the larger household also must pay more per gallon than the smaller household … simple fairness says that onerous feature must go …

A GALLON IS A GALLON IS A GALLON … this whole notion of charging one Davis citizen more for the same gallon of water than is charged to another Davis citizen is puzzling at best … last time I went to the gas station, it was nearly 4 bucks a gallon … the attendant didn’t poke his head in the car and say “Oh, you have six kids in there, so it’s 8 bucks a gallon for you.” …

Obviously, if you use more water than your neighbor, you should pay more … if it’s a dollar a gallon and your neighbor uses 2 gallons, he gets charged $2 … if you have a large family or a bunch of houseguests and you use 10 gallons, you get charged $10 …

But this system adds a penalty to the second group, under the presumption that they’re water wasters … and I’d feel this way if I had 10 kids, two kids or no kids at all … a gallon is a gallon … fair is fair … why the different price per gallon depending on the size of your household? … If we use more water, we pay more … and if we use less water, we pay less … just like the way we get charged for bread, butter, milk, gasoline and pot roast …

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net





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