(Stuart Posselt) – Douglas County is considering consolidation of 8 water enterprise funds throughout the County. There are other self-sufficient districts which the County does not control. The only connection between the 8 funds is they are managed by the County – they are not inter-connected to provide water or any other services to one another and range from Lake Tahoe to the floor of the valley.
There is a huge disparity between the number of customers in the various funds from 35 to 1570 along with a huge disparity in their physical condition – Its like intentionally mixing rotten apples with the good.
Over the years the County has accepted the responsibility for these water districts’ operation and maintenance. Some were seriously deficient in their water quality and/or ability to deliver the proper quantity when the County accepted them. Nobody can explain why the County accepted substandard districts. The County then mismanaged these funds by not bringing them up to required standards and failed to make them self sufficient as such enterprise funds are required to be.
The estimated cost to bring all the districts into compliance is $16 million – it will probably go much higher as government projects so often do. Some of the smallest districts are the most costly – some needing the entire water source and delivery system replaced.
So the County in their collective minds have determined to place all the enterprise fund districts into one giant district and make everybody pay for the repairs. Six of the districts will see a reduction – some substantial – in their rates while two will see increases to pay for the other six. Nobody has yet to provide a valid reason behind this consolidation proposal except for the wealthier districts to get the necessary repairs paid for by the less affluent while receiving a substantial reduction in their water bills.
The largest district of the 8 is the East Valley Utilities with 1,570 customers whose rate will increase by $42 per month – a 77% increase. West Valley with 331 customers will have their rate increase by $22 per month – a 55% increase. These 2 districts will pay an additional $878,664 per year to subsidize the other 6.
Jobs Peak (55 users) will see a decrease of $350 per month, Fairgrounds (35 Users) by $296 a month and Cave Rock (312 users) bills will be reduced by $195 per month.
The value of the properties served by Jobs Peak and Cave Rock are significantly higher than that served by East Valley and West Valley. So that means the homes of lesser value are subsidizing the homes of significantly higher value – a redistribution of wealth from the less affluent to the more affluent – the reverse of the Obama administration’s redistribution of wealth.
All this happening as a result of the County’s incompetence in the acquisition of inferior water systems and the subsequent mismanagement of them. We valley residents are being asked to foot the bill for their blunders. Its like Toyota telling the injured it is your fault and you will have to pay for the damages and retrofits.
The County should have errors and omissions insurance to protect the County residents from these sort of blunders and gross mismanagement. The County has not a clue about filing a claim for such coverage and the DA’s Chief Deputy makes nothing but excuses as to why that is not an option.
For obvious reasons the 1,252 residents who live in the 6 districts that will see a rate reduction are in favor of the consolidation and those 1,901 who live in the 2 districts that will see their rate increase are opposed.
The 1.901 homeowners that are being penalized for the County’s mismanagement and will gain nothing from the consolidation except higher bills. When the 1,252 were asked if they would subsidize the real estate taxes for the 1,901 homeowners, they had all sorts of angry excuses.
The County just recently sucked over $1 million from our wallets for an alleged “re-allocation” of costs which increased the County’s revenue (taxes) without a reduction of any other taxes or fees. We are now being asked to come up with another million dollars due to more of the County’s gross mismanagement.
Hey folks, we in the valley are being taken for an expensive ride! Call and write your Commissioner with your opinion – without your comments they will do what those who speak up demanding lower rates.
The plan is for the Board of Commissioners to vote on the Consolidation in June or July of 2010. Just remember, two of the Board of Commissioners are up for re-election in November of 2010.
(Mr. Posselt lives in Minden, Nevada)