Concerned over water rate increase in Atascadero

December 1, 2010


On November 10th, I was the only member of the public present when the Atascadero Mutual Water Company Board of Directors discussed raising the basic water rates. Due to the success of the water conservation program, revenues are down and rates need to be increased to cover fixed costs. I understand that.

Because there is less new construction, the fees for new water connections are not bringing in the projected revenue. I understand that.

During the meeting, a comment was made that it would be best if the public didn’t think the increased rates would be going to pay for a new administration building which is currently in the planning stage. Since the billing is now out-sourced (which last month caused double-billing plus a notice explaining the double-billing – that was a lot of postage!) and meter reading is out-sourced, why is a larger building needed? That I do not understand.

At the December 8 meeting, the board will decide whether to raise the basic rate by 50 cents, $1.50 or $2.50 per month. Their web site states there are currently over 10,000 service connections, so if they choose the highest rate increase, that will generate $300,000 additional income per year. Enough to build the new administration building in a few years?

Atascadero residents, don’t miss your opportunity to express your opinion on December 8th at 6:30 PM in the current administration building which is located at 5005 El Camino Real, on the corner of San Jacinto.

Kathleen Aragon is a resident of Atascadero.

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Usually, when budgets are made, there is a catagory for future construction. Example, school districts. The powers that be realized if they did not put away money specifically designated for construction only, the money would be taken for other reasons. That is why, while there is no money for teachers, there is money for construction. Another example; when land was subdivided, every section had one lot designated for school districts only. So when that lot was sold, the money would go to schools. Usually, the lot was in a highly desirable area for real estate value. Education was always a concern for this country’s leaders & founders. If money was not put aside for construction only, there would be none. The water district is not known for its fiscal responsibility. People usually go for the short-term gain, not the long-term ‘trickle down’ that education provides. Recently, water districts responded to the floods all over California. When offices do not have sufficient space to store supplies and materials, they have to utilize other buildings, at a price. Ever had an emergancy, and you did not have supplies? Had to run one place for food, another for supplies, and yet another for equipment. Waste of valuable time & energy, when they could be doing their job….not running from building to outbuilding to storage shed to just begin the job! PG & E has these issues. Fire Departments have these issues. I am glad the DMV got upgraded. Those people do deserve a nice working environment. And, by no means are any of the DMV offices in SLO Co. lavishly decorated. Pretty modest, actually. I won’t even touch the subject of overpopulation and the overstressed staff at these water companies due to that fact. Too many people, not enough resources.

Just a little nit picking…

The reason there is no money for teachers is because that money by law can not come from the district. It has to come from the State which sends each district an amount set by the State on a per pupil basis. Districts can not raise this number on their own, it’s against State law. School buildings on the other hand can be put on a district’s ballot as a bond measure,

If districts want more control of monies spent on teachers or students then the State law would have to be changed. Good luck with that!

The school district had already built the $5mil school bus facility before the city bothered to check with the neighborhoods surrounding it to see if there were impact issues to be addressed. We got our letter to join in the open forum discussion several weeks AFTER the darned thing was finished!

This is s.o.p. in Atown.

I doubt anyone’s input at the meeting would change the minds of those who inact the rate increase. They are gonna do it, come hell or high water (pun intended).

There isn’t much time to get the word out but any showing is better than no showing. The AMWC is owned by the land owners of Atascadero. The people can replace the Board of Directors but it will take sometime to accomplish that. Regardless, even if it takes a year, it’s better late than never and once the citizens are fully informed, it will be easy to boot them in my opinion. There is much information to be gathered and distributed. It might be time to wake up the Atascadero Homeowners Association.

I hear you Kathleen, I’ll get the word out……….