Paying The "Pipers"
BEWARE OF LITTLE CARDS IN THE MAIL
What is it with the local entities that are the de facto alimentary canal for our city? First it was the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, which recently announced a whopping 50% increase for the removal of fluids - and other stuff, if you get my drift - from our homes and businesses. Then, in the mail yesterday, we received a notice from the Mesa Consolidated Water District - which provides the fluid to more than 100,000 users that the Sanitary District eventually removes - announcing a public hearing on their own pending rate increase!
The interesting part of the announcement on this little postal card I'm staring at right now is not the amount of the proposed increase in water rates - 9% for the potable water we drink and use to perform other functions - it's the timing of the public hearing. The hearing is going to be held at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 in the Board Room at 1965 Placentia Avenue, Costa Mesa, at which time users who wish to protest the proposed rate increase are encouraged, more or less, to make their views know.
DON'T LIKE IT?
The card also states, "All written protests to the proposed water rate increase must be received by 7:00 p.m. on August 28, 2007.... A postmark is not acceptable." It goes on to say, "Comments submitted by telephone, electronic mail (email), or through Mesa's website will NOT be accepted or counted as protests." If you want to protest this rate increase and have it count you have to do it by that date and time.
WHEN DID YOU SAY?
And just when, you ask, is this proposed 9% increase in the water rate going into effect? Well, the card tells us that the implementation date is September 1, 2007 - three working days following the public hearing!
DO THEY REALLY CARE WHAT YOU THINK?
Now, let me ask you - Do you really think the good folks at Mesa Consolidated Water District give a rat's fanny about how you feel about this rate increase? Neither do I. If they cared at all they'd plan this hearing well in advance of the implementation date instead of just three days before it's to go into effect. This is just another example of bureaucratic arrogance or ignorance, or both. I can just hear a recent conversation in the MCWD Board Room now... "Oh, yes, I guess we'd better tell our users we're going to hit them with an increase pretty soon. What's the latest date we can get away with? Three days before it's effective? Sounds good to me!"
NO SURPRISE HERE
Don't misunderstand me on this issue. I don't doubt the need for a rate increase. Anyone who has lived here for more than a few years understands just how precious water is to us all and, in this year particularly, the need for a rate increase is not a surprise. Heck, in the rainfall year that ended a few days ago we accumulated only 2.2 inches, around 15% of normal.
And, quite honestly, we are practically stealing our water at the current rates. For example, my last water bill was for 42 units at a cost of $83.58 at the current rate. Add in the $15.00 "basic charge" and $.92 for something I don't understand and my bill last time was $99.50. The amount of water I used worked out to $.00266 per gallon! With the rate increase it would rise to $107.06 - no big deal in the grand scheme of things. For some perspective, a gallon of Arrowhead Spring Water at Ralph's costs around $1.50 - more than 560 times more than a gallon of MCWD tap water costs.
IT COULD BE WORSE - A LOT WORSE!
I know of a little hamlet along the central coast that has begun water surcharges to "encourage" conservation. The same amount of water over the same time period would have cost more than $2,000! Their philosophy is to "encourage" you to conserve with a tiered rate structure. The more you use, the more you pay - in staggering multiples. If that doesn't work, they simply shut off your water and seal the meter.
DOES ANYONE CARE?
No, my complaint isn't that I have to pay more for my water. I just don't like the cavalier way the water district and the sanitary district go about doing their business. That being said, I'll bet we don't have a half dozen people show up for either of the public hearings on the two rate increases next month. No one seems to care about these two utilities unless the water stops flowing - at either end of the "alimentary canal".