CONTINUED DISCOUNT WATER RATES FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS VIOLATES PROP 218
Yucca Valley, Ca.- The Hi-Desert Water District will be looking at more red ink with another deficit budget for their fiscal year 2011-2012 proposed by Chief Financial Officer Frank Luckino to include raises for employees and his new job classification. Will they close this $700,000.00 spending gap by taking this out of the cash reserves, again?
At their meeting of Wednesday, May 25, 2011, the draft budget suggest to extend another year of 30% discounted water to the four largest rate payers, including the Town of Yucca Valley, where HDWD CFO is also the Mayor Pro-tem, and Luckino’s church of worship.
In 2009, the low-income senior flat rate of $6.50 was taken away from Yucca Valley’s frail and elderly citing Proposition 218 by CFO Frank Luckino, resulting in $50,000 per year to the HDWD General Fund by this action. This group of low-income ratepayers paid the full going rate for any and all of their water usage. Then President Sheldon Hough said the HDWD could not continue to subsidize the low-income off the backs of the other rate payers, again citing Proposition 218.
At that same meeting, then Yucca Valley Town Manager, Andy Takata, stood at lectern pleading not to raise the town’s water rates at 40% discount. Speaking on behalf of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel was Mike Keliher also asking for continued discounted water rates. A dialog commenced with CFO Frank Luckino affectionately calling Mr. Keliher by his nickname ”Grumpy” asking if the church could handle a 10% rate increase instead of the 40% rate increase as mandated by Proposition 218. This was Luckino’s first board meeting as the recently hired Chief Financial Officer of the Hi-Desert Water District.
Sitting at the dais, squirming uncomfortably in his chair, was HDWD legal counsel, John Brown, of Best, Best & Krieger law firm. Then HDWD President Sheldon Hough, did not call for the vote on the matter and incorrectly claimed he had a consensus to impose only a 10% rate increase. Directors Dan Munsey and Roger Mayes voiced opposition to any discount extensions. When Hough asked for confirmation from BBK to support this action, Mr. Brown suggested the best way would be to phase in their rate increase by 10% each year, every year.
The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors have ignored the professional advice of the Brown & Caldwell water rate study recommending elimination of the discounted rates and the advice of BBK to phase in the rate increase each year.
I have been contacted by several attorneys that have offered to bring legal action against the Hi-Desert Water District representing the ratepayers.
Here is the link:http://www.vote29.com/newmyblog/archives/15925
The Hi-Desert Water District will meet this Wednesday, May 25th, at 6 pm, at their District Office. Please attend and voice your opinion.
HDWD President Sarann Graham SarannG@HDWD.com
HDWD Vice President Roger Mayes RogerM@HDWD.com
Director Dan Munsey DanM@HDWD.com
Director Bob Stadum BobS@HDWD.com
Director Sheldon Hough SheldonH@HDWD.com
Ps. At this meeting the Board will hear the HR Committee report regarding promoting CFO Frank Luckino to Assistant General Manager with only 2 years experience with HDWD. Luckino does not meet the minimum qualifications for this position and has no water or utility experience.
This proposed action will increase Luckino’s salary range from class 12 to class 13 ranking him along with the District’s water engineer.
Story link-CFO Luckino$ Christma$ in July-http://www.vote29.com/newmyblog/archives/21369/comment-page-1