SLV water seeks rate increase
by Press-Banner
Sep 12, 2013 | 2823 views | 19 19 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The San Lorenzo Valley Water District’s board of directors approved a plan to increase water rates within the district each year for the next five years. The increase would take effect in fiscal year 2014 with compounding increases in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

District customers have until the end of a public hearing on October 24 to protest the increase.

According to regulations in Proposition 218 which sets how a public water district can apply a rate increase, more than half of the SLV Water District’s 7,300 customers must protest the increase in writing for it to be denied.

The district will hold an open house explaining the increase from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10 at Highland’s Park Senior Center, 8500 Highway in Ben Lomond. Then it will hold a Proposition 218 rate increase public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 to approve the increase.

 

Why an increase?

The district mailed information about the increase to customers beginning Friday, Sept. 6. The information can also be found at the district’s website, www.slvwd.com. In the pamphlet, the district says the increase is needed to adequately fund operations, maintenance, capital replacement expenditures and meet debt obligations. The district will replace aging water tanks, continue watershed and fisheries management projects and provide some emergency services.

Additionally, the increase will fund projects included in its 2010 Capital Improvement Program, including an oft-discussed administrative campus project with a $6 million price tag. The campus project would consolidate the district’s services to a single location in downtown Boulder Creek, where currently there are three separate facilities the district uses. District reports say the consolidation to the new facility would improve efficiency, provide a meeting room in Boulder Creek, and provide a 24-hour fueling station while centralizing its operations. The district has already purchased the land for the project for $2.2 million.  

 

What will the increase cost you?  

The district says the current bi-monthly water bill for an average residential customer is $90.99, billed once every two months. With the increase implemented each year, the bill would increase to $105.97 every two months in 2014, $119.73 in 2015, $129.90 in 2016, $141.01 in 2017 and $153.02 in 2018. For more details on the rate structure, visit www.slvwd.com.

 

How to oppose it

Written and signed protests of property owners that include the writer’s address and/or assessor’s parcel number must be submitted to the district by the end of the public hearing on October 24. The letters may be mailed or delivered to the district at 13060 Highway 9, Boulder Creek, CA 95006.

 

Opposition pops up

A group of citizens from the Zayante area has dug into the finances of the district and  completed an analysis of the rate increase. Their analysis can be found at their website www.slvwd.co or by way of their Facebook page, San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs. The group opposes the rate increase due to the inclusion of the administrative campus project and the way the district has interacted and communicated with the public.

Comments
(19)
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Vanessa Alpern
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September 20, 2013
Shouldn't the San Lorenzo Valley Water District send everyone ballots so they can vote on the rate increase? Isn't that how a public agency should handle the situation?

Come on SLVWD, where's your transparency and connection to the community that FLOW bragged about.

Not seeing it at all.
anonymous
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September 20, 2013
Vanessa,

The hoops SLV Water is making us jump through are not in the Prop 218 Law. The burden of opposition is not taxpayer initiated, SLV Water is supposed to provide US with the ballot, which we return.

You can read the law yourself, it states:

Local governments must mail information regarding assessments to all property owners. Each assessment notice must contain a mail-in ballot for the property owner to indicate his or her approval or disapproval of the assessment.

After mailing the notices, the local government must hold a public hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the local government must tabulate the ballots, weighing them in proportion to the amount of the assessment each property owner would pay.

Source: http://www.lao.ca.gov/1996/120196_prop_218/understanding_prop218_1296.html#chapter5

See you at the meetings !!
Theryl McCoy
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September 17, 2013
Who will be counting the rate protest votes? Will it be the SLVWD employees that work in that run down old building on Hwy9 with a broken A/C and uncomfortable chairs? lol.
Bart Smith
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September 17, 2013
Run down old building? You mean the one they just renovated for $750,000?

One would hope that part of that expenditure would include A/C repair and better chairs.
The Watchdogs
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September 18, 2013
The validation of the protest letters is a hot issue right now. At the last board meeting, SLV Water got defensively offended when the Watchdogs asked for public oversight of the vote collection and tabulation. To everyone in the room they looked and acted like the fox in the hen house.

The Watchdogs will be at the Thursday, Sept 19 (7:30pm) SLVWD Board Meeting to continue to press for transparency and democracy in the voting process.

Please join us at the meeting to voice your concerns on this matter. And join us online at slvwd.CO (that's right, .CO)and on our Facebook page under San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs.
Levi Snider
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September 15, 2013
Felton called. They want their water system back.
anonymous
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September 15, 2013
Too late. Looks like the only way to fight back is to vote no to the increase. An 80% increase...yikes! That's a lot of groceries.
Levi Snider
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September 16, 2013
You know, maybe there is a way for Felton to get their water system back. After all, SLV Water District did not pay for it. Felton homeowners are paying for it.

Since we're paying for it, we'll take over now thank you very much.

Sorry SLV Water District, it just didn't work out.
Bruce Holloway
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September 21, 2013
The fable, the myth is that Felton bought its water system, but SLVWD did pay for part of it. Felton homeowners paid $11 million with the bond issue and SLVWD paid $4.4 million, $1.5 million in cash plus a $2.9 million loan taken over from Cal Am. SLVWD is continuing to pay $186,798 per year on the loan until 2027 (around the time the bonds will be paid off). That's about $4 of every ratepayer's bimonthly bill. It was generous of Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Boulder Creek, Lockewood and Zayante residents to help make Felton's dream come true!
TonyRichards
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April 15, 2014
Levi. I am eagerly trying to find someone pissed off with the rate hikes for water and tax increases in Felton. I'm in town right now trying to find someone for a commercial that will run in Monterey as part of the No on Measure O campaign. Please reach me NouveauRP@aol.com or 818-802-0533 ASAP.
Theryl McCoy
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September 14, 2013
Why do we need a 9M dollar administration building? Please educate me.
anonymous
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September 15, 2013
This is a great question, Theryl. SLV Water states that it's for efficiency, not cost savings for the rate-payers. But even with $3M of the $9m already spent, without rate-payer oversight, SLV Water never did a Feasibility Study to prove their "efficiency" statement.

I can recommend the following website for a complete and FACTUAL review of SLV Water's financial shenanigans. (slvwd.co/dp/content/white-paper-rate-increases-capital-improvements)

Please pass this webpage to your friends and neighbors.

Anonamous
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September 15, 2013
It is a wonderful investment of public funds for new office space much needed in our valley. We get a public meeting room which does not exist except for BC Library, BC Rec Hall, Felton Rec Hall, BC Elementary, SLV High School, Quail Hollow school headquarters, water district Operations Building, and Highlands Park Senior Center. How could any sane person not agree? Vote yes for progress, for rate increases until we get her done. It's a bargain at twice the price, a shining facility we can all be proud of to gas up trucks to consolidate with Lompico.
Anonamous
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September 14, 2013
This article says August 24 twice for the rate increase hearing and the deadline for protests. The correct date is October 24.
Donna Bauer
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September 13, 2013
With 54 infrastructure projects listed in the 2010 Capital Improvement Program, the water district places a CAMPUS as their highest priority...and they are building this campus on one of Monterey Bay Sanctuary's watersheds...UNBELIEVABLE!!
anonymous
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September 15, 2013
As Joni said..."they paved paradise and put up a parking lot"

Who's running that company? Exxon?
Mark Messimer
|
September 12, 2013
SLV Water PR Spin

The excessive rate increase proposed by SLV Water has taken on a whole new spin within the recently sent public notification. Hiring a new and expensive PR firm will do that.

The $6M Corporate Campus has suddenly become a Facilities Consolidation project. But they didn’t tell you the price tag has jumped to $9M, did they? The $4.8M Emergency Intertie project has already been approved by SLVWD and funded with rate-payer’s reserves. (Rate-payers didn’t get to vote on this) But there it is as a “primary purpose” for this increase.

Rate-payers need educate themselves with facts, not PR fluff. Visit slvwd.co (That’s right, .co, not .com)

Most importantly, if you agree this is a reckless rate-increase, send in a Letter of Protest by October 24th. Only SLVWD rate-payers can put the brakes on this unjustified money-grab.

SLV Water needs to step back, regroup, and then present a revised, transparent and detailed rate increase proposal to their customers.

Gina Gina
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September 22, 2013
What should be in this letter? I do not want my vote to be put into the trash basket because of technicality. Why cannot we have independent count or have rate payers present when the count is done? If all letters are assumed to be protest, how do we know the district will not destroy some of them before the count?
TonyRichards
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April 15, 2014
Mark can you please reach me at 818-802-0533 or NouveauRP@aol.com. I very much would like to speak with you.



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