Position of the City Council is to request that electorate of Dunsmuir vote NO on Measure W.
Measure W proposes to reduce water rates increased in March 2016 and sewer rates that were implemented in 2011.
1. The reduced water rates will not allow for future improvements to water system including replacement of failing water mains, replacement of water tank needed to ensure water pressure is sufficient to provide fire protection to central and southern portions of Dunsmuir service area, or other improvements that may be required in the future.
. The reduced water rates will make Dunsmuir ineligible for grants and loans that are being negotiated with State and federal funding sources.
3. The reduced rates apply to service within the City of Dunsmuir and will leave service to customers in South Dunsmuir area and others outside the City paying higher rates for the service, a violation of State Law which requires all customers pay for the value of the service received which is the water. Rate payers outside City limits would be subsidizing customers inside City limits, a fundamental violation of State law.
4. The proposed reduced water rates, that apply to customer within City limits, are a flat rate in that every customer would pay the same amount with no consideration of amount of water used. So within the City customers with low usage would be “overpaying” for the value of service received and subsidizing those who use more water. This is a violation of State law. Charging customers based on actual metered usage is the only way to comply with the intent of Proposition 218, State Law, and enable the City to encourage conservation in compliance with State law..
5. The reduced water rates will not encourage conservation of water and leave the City water system a target for State fines and assessments if it is determined that City is not conserving during these drought times. The City’s diversion of waters right is limited and if exceeded could lead to additional fines and assessments against the City water system.
6. The reduced sewer rates will not allow for repayment of loans taken to upgrade wastewater treatment plant. The improvements at the plant were required to meet State requirements that allow for discharge of treated wastewater back into the Sacramento River. If the State deems that City is unable to pay back the loan taken to allow for plant improvements, the State may require the State operate the system and set rates they feel are sufficient to operate the system and pay back existing and what the new operator feels are appropriate new loans to continue to improve the plant to comply with existing and new State mandates on treatment.
7. The reduced sewer rates will not allow for City to qualify for the State loans presently being sought to continue improvements at the plant and to allow the City to be eligible for current loan and thus may require immediate payback of the existing loan balance which the City will be unable to do.
8. The reduced sewer rates apply to customers inside city limits. Current rates adopted in compliance with State Law (Proposition 218) may remain for customers outside City limits and create different rates for the same service in violation of State Law requiring same fee for same service.
Measure W proposes that all water served will be to property owners, not tenants, renters, or business operators.
· This provision coupled with flat fee most likely will raise a legal challenge that an assessment or tax is being imposed, not a fee for service that is not being received by the property owner but is being received by tenant, renter, or business owner. It is specifically targeting property owners and not those receiving the service (water).
Measure W proposes to have City enforce new code provisions for “waste of water”.
· This provision will be impossible to enforce without adding enforcement officers to patrol the City looking for violations. The proposed reductions in fees will not allow for additional moneys to fund these positions and thus there will be no enforcement unless current employees repairing leaks and monitoring delivery of water are pulled from those jobs.
Measure W proposes to have water system not charge for repairs or replacements to items serving only the customer side of the water meter.
· This provision will require all other customers to subsidize payment for improvements or repairs to water system that benefit only the customer at a specific address. This could end up in litigation as a violation of State law or the City water system being cited by State for violating State Law.