Margo Sturges’ …As I see it.
Yucca Valley, California—- Frank Luckino, CFO, of the Hi Desert Water District presented a balanced budget at last evening’s Special Meeting to the Board of Directors receiving kudos for achieving what seemed the impossible. His first presentation of the budget proposed a deficit of $956,486.00 and was told to bring back a balanced budget. Pink slips went flying, Capital Replacement projects were cut back and of course, rates will be increased. Water rates up 6%, Basic service charge up 9%, and increasing the Capital Replacement Surcharge by 100%.
If you are a Senior Citizen on a fixed income or a rate payer on low income, hold on to your gold fillings because you may need to sell them to pay your HDWD water bill in the future.
Some brief background: On April 1,2009, the low income flat rate discount of $6.50 was removed with one wave of the Budget Wand saving the District $50,000 per year citing Proposition 218 that everyone must pay the same rate for the same water and the other rate payers cannot continue to subsidize the low income folks. Then HDWD President Sheldon Hough, speaking out of the other side of his mouth, directed staff to continue to provide reduced rates to the largest consumers of water called the CIMIS accounts which stands for California Irrigation Management Information System. Let me state at that time Director Dan Munsey and Director Roger Mayes did not sign on to this but Hough told them he had a consensus.
As I see it, why are these CIMIS rate payers being subsidized and who are they?
What is the monthly impact for our low income folks? The $6.50 discount was removed, the CRP surcharge will be increased by $2.50 to $5.00, the Basic Service Charge will be increased by $.70. Another fixed charge is the $10.40 service charge to fund a portion of the District’s operational expenses and a Debt Service charge for funding the pipeline and recharge facilities. Now add their water usage at an increase rate of 6% . Oh yes, don’t be late on your payment because there is a $10.00 charge or 10% which ever is greater.
Not too worry. According to the HDWD Ordinance 80, “Any customer may avoid payment of such Water Service Charges by withdrawing his or her request for service, disconnecting from District facilities by removing the water meter from his or her property, and otherwise terminating District service in accordance with the District’s rules and regulations.” The Ordinance also spells out the terms of reimbursement to the property owner for removing the water meter.
What they fail to disclose is the District may notify Code Enforcement there is no running water and the home will be red tagged prohibiting anyone from entering or living on the property citing health codes. This is not an option or a solution.
As I see it, our Seniors on a fixed income and low income families are being tossed aside, without their gold fillings, of course.