Letter: Glendale needs to listen to criticism

In 2012, to raise revenue, Glendale, based on the work of its consultant, Willdan, passed a water rate ordinance, ostensibly compliant with Cal. Const. Art. XIIID (Proposition 218). A Dec. 17, 2013 city report indicates: (1) the ordinance produced an $8 million shortfall, (2) staff isolated the error causing this, (3) Glendale retained a new consultant to correct that single error and (4) this led to a detailed analysis of Willdan’s cost of service analysis (COSA) that concluded “a number of errors have been identified...[in Willdan’s work-product]’ resulting in the need to perform an entirely new COSA to ensure proper administration of water rates in compliance with Proposition 218.”

This reassessment, forced by revenue shortfalls, isn’t surprising. Before the ordinance’s passage, I provided the city a detailed analysis of several Willdan errors; and, a letter by a law firm, practiced in Proposition 218, also addressed Willdan errors and was shared with the city. But, consistent with an arrogant pattern that at best ignores citizen critics or at worst treats them with hostility or disdain, the city proceeded in spite of these warnings.

Now it’s faced with revenue shortfalls and $100,000 wasted on an ordinance it must scrap. Even worse, given a fatally flawed COSA, a years worth of collected water fees may be in violation of Proposition 218’s constitutional requirement that the each fee charged not exceed the cost of providing the ratepayer with water — that it not exceed the proportional cost of the service attributable to the ratepayer’s parcel.

Glendale’s people and public policy would be better served if the city abandoned its defensive “circle the wagons” attitude when faced with critiques.

Harry Zavos

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