Here we go again. The city of Glendale makes the case to fill a $180-million need over the next 20 years, and this is only for water service and for capital projects related to it.
The city, together with its programmed and cloned consultant, Willdan Financial Services, has scripted a toxic stack of financial drama.
The fact is our water utility needs $180 million over 20 years, including $60 million in the next five years. The comedy in the city projection is how many ratepayers will save money with this new increase. Even this paper's report on March 22 said properties from single-family homes to high rises could/will save money.
Attention citizens, individual and corporate, residential and commercial: Nothing is intended to lower fees. Keep in mind the need for $180 million in 20 years. In fact, the rate schedule and suggested tiers create only a few windows wherein savings could result. Those with higher education will be challenged, if not dizzy, from reading this incomprehensible assembly of data and how you fit in your class or tier.
The public outreach for such an effort was impotent. This is not a simple rate hike on consumer consumption, but rather a massive structural redesign and redistribution of cost that will do more to divide citizens. Even the Willdan report calls out for “customer classes.” Such radical change, if intended by any other city department, would have assembled individuals from each constituency and held regular meetings for months, instead of the Water Department's “stealth” approach to outreach.
The city and Willdan make a compelling case for its need in the operations, maintenance, capital improvements, etc., which were always there; but now Willdan frames this need to “revise to reflect truer cost impact.”
Utility (water) charges will not be solely based on consumption, but really will be based upon capacity. So the absolute and intentional assault on the business community (nonresidential properties) is staggering. Changes will be a customer charge (or meter charge), a variable charge (all the systems that distribute water), and, of course, consumption charges.
Simply said, if you're in a building that has the capacity to use a lot of water, you will be paying significantly more per month for the privilege of having that capacity, regardless of how little water you will use.
It gets worse. If you have fire sprinklers in your commercial/industrial property, you have an additional meter, a meter that is activated only in the event of a fire. These monthly “standby” water meter charges are going to rise — and these costs are all before you first flush the toilet or make your first pot of coffee. Consumption costs are also going up.
Maybe we can agree the city needs money. But its strategy in suggesting that commercial properties are being subsidized by residential properties is flawed. With an April rollout of these new fees, our overly eager City Council rushed to approve this attack last week.
While it appears to be a done deal, there are review periods during the rollout of our new rates over the next few years. Share the impacts with city management staff, because without citizen input, rates will accelerate.
TONY MANISCALCHI is a Glendale resident, property owner and business owner.