On Dec. 1 the Burbank Leader published an article, “People casually air their gripes.” The main massage focused on the peoples’ concern about steep water bills. The council members’ response was true; however other components and results should have been identified.
First, they should have explained that Burbank Water & Power is an enterprise-fund department. This means that its operations are solely funded by the revenues received from the sale of water or electricity. The more one conserves, the less revenue for BWP. Several years ago the city of Long Beach asked the residents to conserve water. Their response was so great that revenues dropped like a rock. In response to this, water rates were doubled.
Employee benefits go up as rates increase. Also, the Burbank city charter allows enterprise-fund departments to sell revenue bonds without approval of the voters. Over the years Burbank Water has sold numerous revenue bonds worth millions of dollars to fund a capital improvement project for the installation of a recycled water system. As they sell bonds, your rates increase. The sad thing about this is that the system only services city, state, Burbank schools facilities and large businesses.
The best thing for the residents to do is to demand that the city provide copies of the current and proposed next fiscal year’s line-item budgets. This budget form shows all costs line-by-line, showing principle and interest for indebtedness, employee costs, maintenance and operation costs. This way the residents could review the documents and see exactly where the increases are.