Claim: CMSD politicians vote themselves a "Cadillac" health care plan.
Response: The Board did vote for Board members to be able use a group health care plan just like City Councilmen and MESA Water Directors have. One Sanitary Board member has opted to use the plan at a cost to the public of $112 per month. The Board member pays about $470 per month.
Claim: Costa Mesa residents pay ($19.95), nearly double what Newport Coast pays.
Response: It is an apples to oranges comparison if you read the contract. The actual cost for CMSD is $16.50 versus the present NC contract cost of $14.50 per the trash vendor which is the same for both areas. The NC contract only requires the trash vendor to recycle 40% versus 50% for CMSD and allows up to 60% of the trash collected to go straight to the landfill, huge savings for the trash vendor. The NC contract is a two can system versus the Sanitary District customer preferred single can system.
Claim: Lobbyist for the trash hauler contributes $10,000 to CMSD politicians.
Response: The two incumbents have received $ 10,000 or any money from the trash hauler.
Claim: Reduce trash rate by bidding our trash contract which has not been bid since WWII.
Response: A staff report on the District's trash vendors was written this year. It notes the Sanitary District was self hauled for the first 40 years. In 1984, 1994, and 2006 private trash vendors were acquired. The District, over the years, has negotiated the contract many times because of change of ownership of the hauler, as well as other issues. The District is not required by law to competitively bid this contract. The District, under the direction of the board and its management, initiated many new and innovative ideas in order to benefit the taxpayers and residents of Costa Mesa. One of which is the popular one-trash can system. This means that the residents do not have to separate their trash, it is done for them. The District has, at no additional cost to its ratepayers, offered many additional programs such as large item pickup, the sewer lateral maintenance program, Christmas tree and hazardous waste pickups, telephone book recycling program, the home generated sharp recycling program, the tire recycling program, and recycling workshops which are not available at other cities.
Claim: Refund the $5.5 million surplus/overcharge. You are due a refund.
Response: Apparently the two businessmen running for Sanitary District misread the financial statements to come up with this number. There is a $3 million dollar trash reserve to fund the trash recycling technology required by the new state law requiring reducing trash to the landfill from the current 50% to 75%. Without the fund, taxpayer rates would have to be raised to comply with the law.
Costa Mesa residents pay $19.00 per month for weekly trash pickup, which is in the middle of other cities and special district rates, and rates have not been raised during the prior 7 years and have just been lowered this year.
In a recent survey of Costa Mesa Sanitary District's ratepayers, the vast majority feel that the District is doing an excellent job. They indicated that they like the one-can system. Many also indicated that they want the District to remain an independent agency and do not want it to be absorbed by the City of Costa Mesa or any other district, which appears to be the desire of the challengers.
The Costa Mesa Sanitary District just received the District of Distinction Award for 2012. It was one of just 17 out of more than 1,000 Special Districts in the state to receive this recognition. It also won two other awards at the CSDA conference this year.
There are many other reasons for you to be justifiably proud of the accomplishments of your Sanitary District, and any member of the Board would be pleased to speak with you about any concerns you might have.
It is important to point out the Costa Mesa Sanitary District has no debt. The headquarters buildings, as well as its newly constructed corporate yard, are all owned by the taxpayers free and clear. Other Special Districts and cities rely on property taxes to subsidize their rates, our district does not. The District receives only $215,000.00 per year from property taxes, which amounts to only 1.7% of the entire operating budget. Unlike the City of Costa Mesa and other neighboring cities and agencies, the District is proud of the fact that only 18% of the District's budget is consumed by salaries and retirement costs. In fact, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District has recently taken action to completely prepay its unfunded retirement liabilities. Clearly, indicating that the District's focus is on saving the taxpayer and ratepayer's money.
I ask you not to believe the untruths and half-truths being stated, as well as the rumors being whispered by a group wishing to control the City of Costa Mesa and who have an agenda. In order to implement their agenda, it is believed by many within the city that this group only wish to have you vote for other than highly-qualified and experienced trustees of the District. A vote for Mr. Jim Ferryman and Mr. Art Perry come Tuesday would continue to bring honesty and stability to the district. I ask that you vote your pocketbook and return these fine public servants to the Board of Directors of the Costa Mesa Sanitary district and permit them to continue the work they've begun.
JIM WAHNER is the former president of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District and a current commissioner for Integrated Waste Management.