Will Merging Water Districts Help or Harm Fullerton?

Earlier this month Terri Sforza wrote about a possible merger between Metropolitan Water District and the Orange County Water District. For years the Orange County Register has pointed out the redundant and ridiculous overlaps in these two agencies and how it makes sense for taxpayers, or rate payers depending on your view of payments to government bureaucracies.

How much money would be saved by such a merger seems to be open to debate but Sforza thinks at least $1-million right from the start.  Putting the $1-million in perspective, Sforza notes that it is just a drop in the $300-million revenue bucket for the agencies.

What could go wrong?

Currently, the Orange County Water District is a “member agency” of the MWDOC.  These multiple layers of bureaucracy removes the people, water users and voters, further from the decision-making table.  Perhaps a merger will bring Fullerton voters and water users closer to the table of managements’ fiduciary responsibility to the people they serve.

As it stands, Fullerton voters get one single vote from Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead who represents Fullerton voters on the OCWD Board of Directors.  That is one vote out of ten cast on each issue before the Board.

No one knows what a merger will mean for Fullerton.  All we can do is wonder if a bigger water agency equates to a better water agency for those who foot the bill.  If history has taught us anything it is that bigger government is not better government.

REMINDER:  The Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee’s last meeting is tonight at 6:30PM at Fullerton City Hall.  Don’t be shy, we’re in this together.  Speak now or pay later!

Don Bankhead Hidden Government Agencies Orange County Government Watch Your Wallet

8 thoughts on “Will Merging Water Districts Help or Harm Fullerton?

  1. Mr. Sebourn, would the sewer user fee increase on its current prorated basis along with the proposed water rate increase?

    1. Good question. According to the City’s website and my contacts, the sanitation fees are NOT going up as a result of the rate increase.

      The sanitation fee is based on how many hundreds of gallons of water you use on average.

      The following was found on the City’s website at http://www.cityoffullerton.com/depts/maintenance/sewer_system/sewer_service_fee_faqs.asp#681:
      “Fees will vary based on individual water usage. Residents will be charged based on 40% of their water consumption, to make allowance for landscape and recreational water usage that does not return to the sewer system. The proposed sewer fee will be $1.90 per 1,000 gallons of water consumed, or about $15 per month for the average residential customer. Remember, though, this is based on average water use, which can fluctuate based on time of year and other factors.”

      Based on the above info, I pay $28 per month. According to the City’s “Calculate Your Sewer Fee” calculator, I pay $24.

  2. What do you mean “what’s the status?”? Didn’t you know that City Staff were told that the franchise tax on your water was off the table and not up for consideration during the entire water rate study? At least that was what the Ad Hoc Water Rate Committee was told at our final public meeting in May by City Staff.

    The franchise fee, a hidden tax that is not shown on your water bill, is 10% of your water bill and the funds go into the General Fund, not the water system. Since the bulk of the General Fund pays for police and fire, it’s safe to conclude that water users subsidize the salaries of our public safety personnel.

    The franchise tax on your water bill currently amounts to about $2.5 million that is diverted away from the single most important service the City of Fullerton provides -water. $2.5 million would lay a lot of new pipes. But no one seems to want to cut the General Fund by $2.5 million…

    1. Greg Sebourn :
      The franchise fee, a hidden tax that is not shown on your water bill, is 10% of your water bill and the funds go into the General Fund, not the water system. Since the bulk of the General Fund pays for police and fire, it’s safe to conclude that water users subsidize the salaries of our public safety personnel.

      Greg, but then where does the money come from that pays those healthy retirement pensions that the Fullerton tax payers are on the hook to pay for?

      1. The bulk of the money being spent to cover the unfunded pension liability of our city employees comes from the General Fund, the same place where the $2.5-million water tax gets diverted to.

  3. Greg Sebourn :
    What do you mean “what’s the status?”? Didn’t you know that City Staff were told that the franchise tax on your water was off the table and not up for consideration during the entire water rate study? At least that was what the Ad Hoc Water Rate Committee was told at our final public meeting in May by City Staff.

    I didn’t know that Greg.

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