Apparently the much-anticipated Joe Felz Water Study is in, and it says that the illegal 10% water tax is…drum roll, please…illegal. But get this: rather than an honest study, the consultants were clearly told to gin up as much plausible reason to keep as much of the 10% as they could. The result? It’s only 6.7%. Yay!
The only problem is that to reach 6.7%, the consultant cooked up the idea that the Water Fund owed the City rent on land where water reservoirs are located! According to Ad Hoc Water Committee member Greg Sebourn, the total annual rent was figured at $1,374,000 – well-over half of the existing tax.
Of course this scam raises all sorts of new issues, as scams generally do. Such as: the reservoir in Hillcrest Park supports a play field on its deck. Does the City rent this back from the Water Fund? Bet not! The reservoir up at the top of Euclid is situated in a cactus patch patrolled by goats. What’s the rental or development value of a nature park? I dunno, but it’s not much. Has the Water Fund been paying for maintenance on these properties that should have been the responsibility of the General Fund? Bet so.
Then of course there’s the issue of whether the waterworks itself paid for fee title to any of these properties in the first place, a way back when. I wonder if the consultant even bothered to check. Bet not.
And there’s the embarrassing fact that there is no arm’s length relationship between the people that impose the rent and the people that pay it. The City Council can demand any amount of rent they want – then agree to pay it. Why not? The proceeds go to pay their own pensions! Now, that’s not very good, is it?
In any case, the public may find it a bit confusing and unseemly that at the eleventh hour the bureaucrats and their hand-picked consultant are burning the near-midnight oil to drum up ways to charge as much for water as they can that they can keep siphoning money into the General Fund.
Will the city Council buy into this load? Well, of course they will. The vote will be 4-1, and it will be up to the citizens and voters to rectify the scam at the ballot box.
Our job is to continue to expose the fraud for what it is.