Acting on the recommendation of the city staff, four council members moved forward with a plan to increase water rates by more than 60% over the next three years. The hefty increase is designed to rebuild the reserves in the city’s water fund that is supported by water bills paid by residents and businesses.
The big increases were opposed by five speakers at the council meeting Tuesday evening and that’s likely just the start of the complaints as the concern spreads.
Looking at the recommendation and the rationale, you have to wonder how badly prior city management and elected officials missed on water rates. City enterprise funds should do more than break-even year-to-year. It should cover current operations and maintenance while building a reserve fund for eventual replacement of facilities. That second aspect seems to have been missed. It’s similar to all off the transit agencies that bank little for capital improvements and then hope manna falls from taxing-and-spending heaven such as Sacramento or Washington D.C.
The staff report notes that the city will be seeking other funding sources such as that manna as well as its share of the PFAS settlement with 3M.
The majority of the council, Mayor Karla Brown and councilwomen Julie Testa and Valerie Arkin, have ignored citizen suggestions that they slow down some capital spending—such as a new skate park and renovating Century House, because clean water is a higher priority.
Come election time, the voters will be heard from.
Watching the American Century Classic celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Lake Tahoe over the weekend, it was striking how much snow was still visible on the mountains west of the lake in mid-July.
When we were there in the last week in June, we were struck by how much snow was still there as we drove on highways 88 and 50. Chatting with the bar tender at our Sunday brunch, he said he’d skied 100 days this season (perfect for locals with lots of tough weather weekends followed by clear weeks—he works nights so could make his turns during the day).
He mentioned that he has the gear to hike for his summer turns now that the lifts have closed. I joked that could last through the summer and he said he’s planning on it lasting year-round. Wow. When’s the last time you heard that about the Sierra Nevada snowpack?
Having driven Highway 120 over Tioga Pass when returning from Utah last October, it’s been striking to see the effects of the massive snowfall in that area. The road is finally clear and will open Saturday---the latest opening in recorded history. There are some temporary facilities in Tuolumne Meadows where facilities were damaged, including the sewage system. Reports show the park is absolutely jammed on the valley floor with limited parking and spectacular water falls. The high country opening might reduce some of the congestion.