The fight over water continues in Paso Robles
July 28, 2011
In the July 2011 issue of the Paso Robles Magazine, Paso Robles City Manager, Jim App said that the water rates proposed in 2007 were “virtually identical to those recently adopted”. After all the citizens of Paso Robles have been through with the water rates, I’m glad to say that the 2007 plan is nothing like the rates finally adopted in 2011.
With the 2007 plan, our seniors would have been paying $85 per month, even if they used NO WATER! On the current plan, they will be paying $25 for the sewer plus $4.40 for each unit of water used.
While App thought in 2007 that $10 million would build a Water Treatment Plant, only after thousand of letters of protest were received, did the City hire an engineering firm who found out that the Treatment Plant would instead cost $30 million. The current rates cover this higher cost of the Water Treatment Plant. The 2007 plan didn’t.
Do you remember the County worker, father of four, who spoke at a City Council meeting explaining that his water bill would be over $400 per month? That was what App proposed and we would have been saddled with, until the citizens of Paso Robles made their feelings known.
The “Pay as you go” plan was adopted which cut $40 million in finance charges. This is actual money citizens will not have to pay with the current plan. Now, App wants to add financing back in.
Only because of thousands of Paso Robles citizens stood up and insisted on a better rate system, and on cutting spending, did we get to the current rates. Millions and millions of dollars in spending were cut, plan after plan—$40 million in financing the Water Treatment Plant, another $30 million in hard costs were cut in the final plan. Remember $6 million for a remote meter reading system and $2.8 million to purchase a one-acre water tank site?
The City claims all the objections over rates has cost almost $2 million. Well, from my perspective, the City would have cost the citizens over $70 million in unnecessary spending, if the City had its way. This is real savings. This is the “Savings” as opposed to a “Cost” of the democratic process that many Paso Robles residents participated in. I congratulate the all those who did participate. But it now appears that our work on this issue is not done.
Even after the special election was held and this project rejected by the voters, our City simply presented another rate increase and wouldn’t quit until they were successful in adopting an increase. After all, the City Council in 2004 committed to pay for the Pipeline, before they had any funding agreement from the citizens. And, later they decided they “needed” a Water Treatment Plant or they couldn’t use Nacimiento water.
With the court ruling allowing the City to charge for the Nacimiento Pipeline and the Water Treatment Plant infrastructure on our water bills instead of requiring these projects be put to a vote, the pressure is back on our good citizens to stand up and fight again and again, to assure we can afford to pay these outrageous expenses.
Since our elected representatives won’t stand up for us, let’s tell Jim App we are still paying attention. We are not “confused” with revisions in the rate plan. And, we will not stand for millions to be added to the $120 million that Nacimiento water is already costing us!
Karen Reed is a resident of Paso Robles.