Sewer Rate Increase Workshop
Last night I attended, along with five (5) other residents, the workshop hosted by the Costa Mesa Sanitary District at the Neighborhood Community Center intended to provide information about the proposed sewer rate increase planned for later this year.
DISTRICT LEADERS AND CONSULTANTS
CMSD General Manager Scott Carroll and consultants John Farnkopf and Richard Simonson - hired to provide the study that resulted in the proposed rate restructuring - were joined by Directors Jim Ferryman, Bob Ooten, Mike Scheafer and Arlene Schafer in a free-flowing, casual discussion of the issue with us.
PLENTY OF GOOD INFORMATION AVAILABLE
Handouts included the 25-page Sewer Rate Study, available for review on the CMSD website HERE, and a FAQ sheet, HERE. Unfortunately, because the study is necessarily founded on assumptions instead of measurable facts, some of the attendees probably left dissatisfied. I suspect some of you will feel similarly if you take the time to plow through the detail of the report.
The proposed new rate structure will remedy what the consultants perceive as an inequity between what residential users pay versus what commercial users pay to move their sewage. The rates proposed for beginning with the fiscal year 2013/2014 will theoretically adjust that inequity - single family residential users will carry a greater portion of the burden. Their rates will go from $69.00 per year to $85.34 - a change of just over 16%. Here's a chart from their FAQ sheet that displays the changes proposed. Click on the image to enlarge it.
RIGHT QUESTIONS? WRONG VENUE
Some attendees attempted to turn the meeting into a budget discussion, questioning District costs, salaries, pensions, etc. Of course, while the questions may be valid, this was the wrong venue. We were there to be briefed on how the new rates were established - and we received that information. The District will be beginning their budget discussions soon and Carroll invited the public to attend those meetings at the District Headquarters.
Most of us received the required notice of the public hearing proposing these rate adjustments. And, we also received a notice from the Orange County Sanitary District about THEIR plan to also increase rates. So, this will be a double-whammy for sewer processing rates. The hearing on THAT increase will be held later this month.
VIRTUALLY NO OPPOSITION
Residents who oppose the CMSD rate increase may formally oppose it by writing to the District. At one vote per parcel it will require more than 13,000 parcel owners - half of the total number of parcels covered by the CMSD - to protest and halt this increase. Based on the turnout last night, I think the chances of that happening are pretty darn slim.
I UNDERSTAND IT...