Making practical sense of water works

Larry Moorehouse's Oct. 26 letter, "We need smart managers, not meters," on smart meters raised a serious issue of priorities.

I have read material that is highly critical of smart meters, and that reports several northern governmental bodies have opposed them. Some Glendale officials, on the other hand, have asserted smart meters are the wave of the future and will make the operation and monitoring of our public utility more efficient.

For the point Moorehouse makes (and with which I agree), for the sake of argument let's accept the latter view. The question then is: Why now, when our antiquated utility structure is starved for money to correct existing failures? For example, in order to barely balance this year's water-works budget (even with a rate increase and a one-time $2-million drawdown of rate-stabilization funds) Glendale Water & Power officials have said they will have to defer 11 of 20 water-works capital improvement projects aimed at correcting systems that have already failed — such as the replacement of the Adams Hill, Western, Canada, Kenneth water mains (as well as the replacement of five others).

The utility's assistant general manager, Peter Kavounas, told the Glendale Water & Power Commission that some of these lines are so bad there is not enough pressure to support one additional fire hydrant on the line. Five of six capital improvement projects for predicted failures will have to be deferred.

While smart meters may be wonderful, deferring the replacement of failing systems, like water mains with inadequate pressure, will be an immediate threat to the utility's ability to deliver water. Why can't we spend our scarce water-works money on immediate and pressing needs and defer desirable but not crucial items — like smart meters — to a future date when Glendale Water & Power is not so financially strapped?

As a matter of priorities, doesn't that make practical sense?

Harry Zavos



Council should reject water rate increases


On Tuesday, the City Council will decide whether to increase water rates again. The council should reject this proposal and implement an option that will benefit both ratepayers and Glendale Water & Power.

The alternative would allow Glendale Water & Power to avoid a projected $2-million waterside deficit, which is forcing the utility to defer critical maintenance and repairs. It would also negate Glendale Water & Power's call for another water rate increase, which some council members admit is a back-door tax.

Under the alternative, City Council would reduce this year's water fund transfer to the city's General Fund from $4.2 million to $2.2 million. This would leave Glendale Water & Power with an additional $2 million to resolve its water-works fiscal problems and keep operations functioning properly. It will also require the City Council to make additional cuts in city spending.

Cutting another $2 million from the General Fund budget is not an ideal solution, but it is preferable to hitting ratepayers with another water rate increase. In just the past three years, utility customers have been dealt three double-digit rate increases.

The General Fund budget is $173 million. It covers numerous city services and hundreds of city employees. Identifying cuts of $2 million, or about 1.2% of this large budget, should not be impossible.

It is time for council to stop transferring millions of dollars from Glendale Water & Power every year needed by the utility to maintain safe, reliable operations.

And it is time for the City Council to stop contributing to Glendale Water & Power's financial problems and then socking ratepayers with repeated rate hikes to stem the fiscal bleeding.

Bob Getz


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