Tags

, , , ,

water-rate-increaseMWD Adopts Unnecessary Rate Increases for 2015 and 2016 While Over-Collecting $350 Million from Ratepayers. The agency continues overcharging region’s ratepayers while spending excess revenue on unbudgeted expense.

MWD has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in recent months because it under-estimated water sales and over-estimated its expenditures.

April 8, 2014 –The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday raised rates for 2015 and 2016 despite having projected cash reserves of $840 million – an amount that is $352 million above its board-adopted maximum reserve limit. MWD’s board also voted to spend the over-collected revenue on unbudgeted expenses.
Officials from the San Diego County Water Authority and several of its 24 member agencies attended that Tuesday’s hearing in Los Angeles to defend the region’s ratepayers and urge no water rate increases be adopted. However, despite compelling information that rate increases are unneeded, the MWD board adopted 1.5 percent increases for each of the next two years.

The Water Authority’s delegates to MWD voted against the rate increases not only because they are unnecessary, but also because they are based on the same flawed methodology that the judge in San Francisco County Superior Court recently ruled violates the California Constitution, the California Government Code and the common law.
“MWD had a chance to help ratepayers and water agencies by providing rate relief,” said Thomas V. Wornham , Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Instead, it’s continuing to charge more in an era when other public agencies are struggling to make do with less.
“MWD says these rate increases will avert bigger rate increases down the road – but there’s no assurance that they will do so,” Wornham said.

“To avoid wild fluctuations in rates, MWD doesn’t need to raise rates now – it needs better long-term fiscal planning.”
In February, mayors of 14 cities in San Diego County called on their colleagues across Southern California to protest the unnecessary rate increases planned by MWD.

In March, the Water Authority used MWD’s own financial documents to develop estimates for how much money MWD is over-collecting from each water agency that buys water from MWD.

agencies-map-big-viewSan Diego: The Town that Wouldn’t Give Up:

There are accusations of conspiracies, illegal secret meetings and double-dealing. Embarrassing documents and e-mails have been posted on an official Web site emblazoned with the words “Fact vs. Fiction.” Animosities have grown so deep that the players have resorted to exchanging lengthy, caustic letters, packed with charges of lying and distortion.

Water is a perennial source of conflict and anxiety throughout the arid West, but it has a particular resonance here in the deserts of Southern California. This is a place where major thoroughfares are named after water engineers (Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles) and literary essays (Essay: Holy Water , for instance) and films (“Chinatown”) have been devoted to its power and mystique.

Yet in the nearly 80 years since the Arizona Army National Guard was called out to defend state waters against dam-building Californians, there has been little to rival the feud now under way between San Diego’s water agency and the consortium of municipalities that provides water to 19 million customers in Southern California.

At issue is San Diego’s longstanding contention that it has been bullied by a gang of its neighbors in the consortium, able by virtue of their number to force the county to pay exorbitant fees for water. The consortium had imposed two back-to-back 5 percent annual water rate increases on San Diego — scaled down, after strong protests, from what were originally set to be back-to-back increases of 7.5 percent a year.

aqueduct

Public records detailing MWD’s Secret Society’s inner workings posted online

The battle was fought in the courts with conflicting claims from the two sides — but also on the Internet. San Diego officials had created a sleek Web site to carry their argument to the public, posting 500 pages of documents they obtained through public records requests to discredit the other side.

And they might have struck oil, as it were, unearthing documents and e-mails replete with references to the “anti-San Diego coalition” and “a Secret Society,” and no matter that the purported conspirators contend that they were just being jocular.

“There is a lot of frustration,” said Jerry Sanders, the mayor of San Diego, who has watched from the sidelines as the independent San Diego Water Authority waged its wars. “It’s been building over the years.”

Asked about the tactics, Mr. Sanders demurred. “Whether they are effective or not, I’ll leave that to other people to judge.”

If nothing else, the fight has been an entertaining diversion from the kind of bland bureaucratic infighting that usually characterizes these kinds of disputes.

Dennis Cushman, the assistant general manager of the San Diego authority, said it posted the documents — and asked a judge to force the disclosure of a ream of other private e-mails and documents — so beleaguered water consumers “could see how the business of water in California is actually done.”

“We had suspicions about what was going on,” Mr. Cushman said. “We were shocked by the depth and scope and the level of sophistication of what was going on.”

“It’s not done in public,” he said. “It’s done out of public view. The meetings aren’t open. They are designed to expressly exclude the agency they are discriminating against.”

 

**

Projected overcollection for San Diego County Water Authority: $76,090,893.16

 

 

 

 

Resources:

San Diego County Water Authority

The Metropolitan Water District

Public Service Management

Ethics Training for Local Government Officials – Attorney

MWD Rate Challenges | San Diego County Water Authority

Member Agencies | San Diego County Water Authority

Water Wars | lisaleaks

San Diego Takes Water Fight Public – NYTimes.com

Monthly Member Agency Fixed Charge Allocation | San

Board of Directors | San Diego County Water Authority

Blog : Coming Attractions To Your Town In The Near Future?

Court of Appeals Applies the Doctrine of Collateral Estopp

Colorado River Water Transfer Agreements – San Diego

Tentative ruling for CA water district’s violation of cost-of

CALIFORNIA WATER SUPPLY

Water Law, Water Transfers, and Economic Efficiency: Th

Captioning – City of San Diego

Parker Dam—Bureau of Reclamation Historic Dams and

Chapter 15: The Town that Wouldn’t Give Up | San Diego

Bureau of Reclamation Historic Dams and Water Project

Water Transfer Schemes | lisaleaks

Geothermal Power Facility Induces Earthquakes at Salton Sea

MWD Adopts Unnecessary Rate Increases for 2015 and 2016 While Over-Collecting $350 Million from Ratepayers

Agency continues overcharging region’s ratepayers while spending excess revenue on unbudgeted expenses

April 8, 2014 -The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday raised rates for 2015 and 2016 despite having projected cash reserves of $840 million – an amount that is $352 million above its board-adopted maximum reserve limit. MWD’s board also voted to spend the over-collected revenue on unbudgeted expenses.

Officials from the San Diego County Water Authority and several of its 24 member agencies attended Tuesday’s hearing in Los Angeles to defend the region’s ratepayers and urge no water rate increases be adopted. However, despite compelling information that rate increases are unneeded, the MWD board adopted 1.5 percent increases for each of the next two years.

The Water Authority’s delegates to MWD voted against the rate increases not only because they are unnecessary, but also because they are based on the same flawed methodology that a judge in San Francisco Superior Court recently ruled violates the California Constitution, the California Government Code and the common law.

“MWD had a chance to help ratepayers and water agencies by providing rate relief,” said Thomas V. Wornham, Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Instead, it’s continuing to charge more in an era when other public agencies are struggling to make do with less.

“MWD says these rate increases will avert bigger rate increases down the road – but there’s no assurance that they will do so,” Wornham said. “To avoid wild fluctuations in rates, MWD doesn’t need to raise rates now – it needs better long-term fiscal planning.”

In February, mayors of 14 cities in San Diego County called on their colleagues across Southern California to protest the unnecessary rate increases planned by MWD. In March, the Water Authority used MWD’s own financial documents to develop estimates for how much money MWD is over-collecting from each water agency that buys water from MWD. The total for Southern California at the end of June is projected to be $352 million above the maximum reserve limit set by MWD’s board. A real-time overcharge calculator, along with a breakdown by each MWD member agency, is at mwdfacts.com.

MWD has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in recent months because it under-estimated water sales and over-estimated its expenditures. Instead of using the resulting over-collected revenue to provide rate relief next year, the MWD voted to spend it on unbudgeted expenses and continue its long history of increasing rates.

MWD’s 2015 and 2016 rates were adopted Tuesday along with the agency’s $1.64 billion budget for fiscal 2015 and its $1.69 billion budget for fiscal 2016. The Water Authority will account for higher costs from MWD when developing its rates for the Water Authority Board’s consideration in June.

In addition to opposing MWD’s rate proposal for 2015 and 2016, the Water Authority has sued MWD for setting rates that illegally overcharge San Diego County ratepayers in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In February, a Superior Court judge in San Francisco tentatively ruled in favor of the Water Authority in two related cases, saying MWD violated cost of service requirements of California’s Constitution, statutes and common law. The parties are awaiting a final ruling in the first phase of the trial before the second phase of the trial begins later this year.

Phase 2 of the trial is expected to decide the disposition of tens of millions of dollars in disputed payments the Water Authority has made to MWD since 2011. Should the court award a refund to the Water Authority, the Water Authority will deduct its litigation expenses and return the remaining money to its 24 member agencies in proportion to their past payment of MWD’s illegal charges. For more information about the Water Authority’s lawsuits, go to www.sdcwa.org/mwdrate-challenge.

– See more at: http://www.sdcwa.org/mwd-adopts-unnecessary-rate-increases-2015-and-2016-while-over-collecting-350-million-ratepayers#sthash.eivQVwW5.dpuf

Advertisements