The only thing that will prevent the move to stop this rate hike is logistics. There is no doubt that the necessary petition signers are out there. People do not want this thing. It is now just a question of will enough of them be reached by the July 13 deadline. Apparently that is what the City is counting on.
If you go to Appendix B-1 of the study done by some consultants the City of Sierra Madre hired to concoct an argument for raising our costs for water, you'll discover that we are already paying among the highest water rates in the area.
Sierra Madre is a member of the San Gabriel Water District, along with Monterey Park, Azusa, and Alhambra. The chart supplied by the thoughtful consultant breaks down current water rates per billing period for each of these cities this way:
Sierra Madre ...... $104.00
Azusa .................. $80.49
Alhambra ........... $86.39
Monterey Park ... $81.82
With the proposed rate hike here, should it somehow survive the protest period ending July 13, your cost per billing period will increase to $128. Or to as much as $150 depending on your meter size. And possibly even more should you run afoul of the City assigned Tier Scale.
Which means that Sierra Madre residents will be paying approximately 80% more for water than other member cities in the San Gabriel Metropolitan Water District. And that is only at the beginning of a scheduled 5 year graduated increase to approximately 40%.
Now the question of Sierra Madre's bold leadership in the water billing category did come up at a recent City Council meeting. And perhaps as a way of putting a damper on any such embarrassing speculation, John Buchanan asked City water meister Bruce Inman to explain this lamentable situation. Bruce then made the rather logic challenged claim that since these other cities have a lot more people, they can spread the costs out. Thus the already higher rate here.
Which to me seems as if other important factors were not considered. Wouldn't having more people also mean requiring a higher level of water service? More costly infrastructure? An enterprise involving more employees, more electricity, more infrastructure and well maintenance, more equipment, more department vehicles and the fuel to run them, and, naturally, more water? And wouldn't all this more than compensate for Bruce's claim that other cities get a lower rate due to their population?
Sometimes I am offended by the simplistic and dismissive explanations we are given from those attempting to push this water rate increase through. Do they actually believe that carefully thought out and logical explanations are wasted on us?
Here is a very simple mathematical equation that will help even the most numerically challenged individuals appreciate just how much money they will be expected to cough up in the five years. And beyond.
Take your current water bill and multiply it by 140%. That is what you will be paying for water in 2015 should this rate hike be allowed to survive.
As you can see, all the talk about this being a small amount of money is just that, talk. And when this new rate becomes a permanent part of your bimonthly water expenses, something that will never go down and you will be paying for the rest of your life, it really does come to a lot of money. Multiply your personal rate hike by 5, 10, 20 and 30 years. There goes that new car you've been wanting.
Another point. Let's say we don't hit the mark, and we cannot turn in enough signatures to trigger Prop 218 and put Dracula back into its box. The fact will remain that hundreds and hundreds of people will still have protested the water rate hike. And those people, upon discovering that their will has been thwarted and that because of a lack of a few hundred signatures they will be forced to pay more for water, will not be happy.
The City, if it succeeds, will not have done so without a significant political cost.
But nobody here is planning on losing. At the top of this post is a copy of the water protest form. Click on it and that form will increase to its full size on your computer screen. If you haven't done so yet, print it out, sign it, and mail it in to the City Clerk at the address provided.
You only have until July 13, so do not delay.