91% Water Rate Increase, WTF Is Next?

Let’s hope the city council comes to its senses and votes NO on raising our water rates and associated taxes 91% over the next 10 years. Friends, I’d like to thank Greg Sebourn for bringing this issue to our attention. As many of you may remember, Greg ran for Fullerton city council last year and received 6,375 votes. Here is Greg’s take on the proposed rate increase:

Fullerton Water Rates to Double

This Tuesday night the Fullerton City Council will direct staff on the implementation of a water rate study.  Based on the proposal from the City’s consultant, Municipal & Financial Services Group (MFSG), the new rates will be increased by 10% for 5 years then 3.5% for another 5 years amounting to a 191% increase by 2021.

The reason for the tax hike is clear.  MSFG says, “It should be noted that the planned spending on mainline replacement over the projection period is significantly more than the City has undertaken in the past. At a cost of approximately $190 per linear foot of line the City plans to replace approximately 6 miles of mainline per year at a cost of over 6 million per year.  At this pace it would take the City 400 years to replace the entire system (which consists of approximately 420 miles of pipe).”

MFSG’s proposal spells out how exactly we got into this mess in the first place.  Unfortunately, this proposal and the implementation should have been undertaken decades ago.  Oddly, the proposal notes that the City could just ignore the problem (like they have been doing for so many years).

Read the rest of  “Fullerton Water Rates To Double”

28 Replies to “91% Water Rate Increase, WTF Is Next?”

  1. Well, fortunately the Redevelopment agency has absconded with millions in general fund revenues in order to save old theaters (is the Fox almost done?), build railroad museums and create Mecca’s for 2 or 3 bar owners. Not to mention zero interest loans to the builders of several brick veneer, mixed use retail/condo projects. Every one of them has a pretty plaque with the names of the council members who so kindly used our money to improve our lifestyle as the sewers and water pipes were disintegrating beneath our feet. Nice job Fullerton Redevelopment Agency! Keep up the good work. The kids in the Fullerton Elementary District can hardly use that $3.1 million a year that goes toward all this terrific stuff!

  2. If this is so long overdue and is because of City inattention and mismanagement why on earth would Sebourn encourage people to oppose trying to remedy it now? Nobody likes higher taxes or rates, but expecting a free lunch or kicking the can down the road for the next guys to tackle it hasn’t worked yet.

    Higher taxes might not “fix decades of mismanagment and waste” but it would probably fix the water system.

    1. Nipsey,
      We have the money but it will mean cutting other programs that are not necessary.

      How much money does the City throw away charging homeowners with fig trees?

  3. Because Nipsey, if we continue to bail out children with more money from mom and dad, they’ll never get their act together. We’ve got a council that attempts to spike pensions, makes redevelopment areas out of perfectly good real estate and has engaged in the same kind of public employee compensation philosophy that has brought our entire state to it’s knees. At some point, you have to stop feeding the beast in order to force it on a diet.

  4. That’s all true, and beside the point. The water system won’t fix itself, that is precisely why we are mad at thee council — for not tacking the problem. So, let’s not tackle the problem too. That will show them.

  5. I don’t believe I recommended not tackling the problem. Would you heal a heroin addicts convulsions by administering more heroin?

  6. Thanks Tony and Travis for helping get the word out.

    Like many others, I saw this coming. During the campaign I said our infrastructure was in dire straights and in desperate need of adequate funding. I don’t think it is an issue of being under taxed over the years but rather an issue of frivolous spending habits on all the wrong projects. We need to turn our focus to repairing the decay of our infrastructure with the limited funding we have.

    As a municipal government, our roads and utility systems MUST come FIRST! That means other “programs” may suffer but that is the price we have to pay for ignoring the problem.

  7. Why not “use” the Redevelopment Agency’s borrowed-bond money to make these repairs?

    They blow a bunch of money fixing up sidewalks (including the store fronts of a bunch of derelict taverns, all the way through to the back alley) with “Redevelopment money.”

    Why not fix underneath the sidewalk (the water pipes) instead?

    An improper or inoperable or unsafe water system is certainly a “BLIGHT” and a cause of neighborhood deterioration – so why not continue to MISUSE this PHONY boondoggle “Redevelopment Agency” for something of actual value to the entire city, rather than just phony jobs which are only beneficial to a few cronies who can suck up kickbacks?

    And, let’s see the prioritization of this 6 miles per year of replacements (down stream FIRST, or whereever there is the maximum pressure or usage or flow choakpoints).

    I do not understand “REPLACEMENT” of the entire system.

    Was it improperly engineered to begin with? Did it not anticipate population as could easily be projected based on zoning ordinances and plans? Are average family size statistics higher now than they were when the zoning ordinances were approved and the streets and neighborhoods were all laid out and built?

    I DON’T THINK SO.

    If it is earthquake problems, is that not just maintenance work, rather than REPLACEMENT of the entire system?

    Use (i.e. “misuse” as the phony Agency proponents might say) Redevelopment money FIRST, every dime of it, that the past Council approved based on their phonied up “blight” study.

    That money should cover the total of ANY water pipe Replacments which exceeds the amounts which are currently being paid in evry month by taxpayers-waterusers.

  8. For Nipsey and those who believe that the end justifies the means, how about converting all of our public streets into toll roads to cover the costs of repairs and replacement of the roads?? Stupid idea, I know, but we cannot “fix” decades of poor planning with the silver bullet of taxation. It’s time to dig deep into the City coffers, not taxpayers’ wallets!

    1. I’m having difficulty understanding the difference between the City’s coffers and the taxpayer’s wallet. Seems like the same thing.

      If transmission lines need to be replaced they need to be replaced. A prioritized schedule should be able to justify any costs. Similarly the cost of MWD water needs to be passed along to the consumer (thanks Ackerwoman). However the amount of overhead and administration applied to this infrastructure needs to pared to the bone – for once. And the 10% franchise fee needs to be ended. Now.

      1. Coffer vs wallet:
        Coffer refers to the money currently in the budget.
        Wallet refers to new taxes to cover the mistakes and mismanagement of the City.

        The problem is that the City should have put together a plan to replace each pipe back when they were putting them in the ground. Instead, they stuck their heads in the sand and ignored developing a plan to replace the pipes.

        1. Okay. But if the coffer’s empty, it’s empty; the bare fact of prior mismanagement won’t stop future deterioration.

          If you want to use reserves you could; but you might be facing cash flow problems and face the need for short-term borrowing to meet payroll and pension obligations.

          The real key here is to make sure the expenses are going to actually building stuff. Watch out for the Engineering Department! They love to pile on costs for amorphous stuff like ‘contract administration” and overhead. And again seize the moment to eradicate the fraudulent 10% franchise fee that goes to directly from gross water revenue directly into the general fund. That is nothing more than a hidden tax.

          1. Good point on the franchise tax.

            I don’t think we are too financially broke to make significant gains with respect to our infrastructure but the leadership has to have a change in their mindset and stop with the pet projects. We all have them but now is not the time to spend on these non-critical projects.

            We have been spending so much time and money looking at parking structures, transportation centers, housing, and theaters that we have lost focus on the roads and utilities under- the infrastructure’s most basic elements.

            It makes me question what else our City management and leadership has forgotten to plan for…

  9. Also on the agenda is a proposal to spend half a million dollars to spruce up the alley behind the restaurants on the west side of Harbor.

    1. Oh, no. Not that idiocy again. How much money has been wasted studying that? Whitaker? Quirk?

  10. This might be the first real test of Pat McPension’s “conservative” cred.

    Of course, he will fail.

  11. Oh the irony…

    We’ve all seen those “Conserve Water” posters hanging on the walls of government offices. And then there’s the lawn watering police looking for offenders on a hot, summer afternoon.

    But in order to fund water pipe replacement, the City NEEDS residents to waste water. I like to think of it as Reverse Welfare. In their eyes your wasteful water usage is an entitlement to their bank accounts.

    Mark my words, this will backfire if allowed to pass. People will ditch their natural lawns in favor of rock, mulch, cactus, or something else that requires little water. Fullerton will start looking like Phoenix.

  12. Since we’re on the subject, are they planning to increase Trash, Sanitation, Sewer fees too?

    I suppose the Sanitation and Sewer fees aren’t THAT bad, but the Trash fees are obscene. An empty house generating NO trash whatsoever has to pay about $15-20 per month for a service they don’t use.

  13. Yes, it is an irony that they are tying funding to something we should be conserving.

    I think it is hardly backfiring if it induces people to ditch lawns (the only thing ‘natural’ about them are that they are a plant) and look seriously at low water landscaping. It’s not just rock gardens. California native landscapes can be incredibly lush and use tiny amounts of water.

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