The cat is out of the bag! (February 22, 2016)

Well, the geniuses at the Town of Apple Valley have done it again. This time, they’ve shown they have so little understanding of the issues, that in attempting to criticize Liberty Apple Valley, they inadvertently complimented both Liberty Apple Valley and its predecessor, Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company.

Here’s the Facebook posting that started it all:

The cat is out of the bag. Liberty Utilities plans a 14% increase per year in the base rate for water in Apple Valley. Here is Greg Sorensen, president of Liberty Utilities California, telling shareholders about the company’s plans to raise rates. Read more at The new boss is the same as the old boss.

Town of Apple Valley, CA, Facebook, February 12

I wasn’t able to find the source of this claim, which seemed to be recycled from the innumerate Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett’s transparency report of January 26th. In response, I posted:

Somebody stop them from investing in our community right away! We don’t need their money. As Barb Stanton once said, Can’t we just borrow the money? That’s the ticket!

As expected, the Town’s mouthpiece doubled down:

Let’s come back to the point. You support Liberty that wants to raise base rate by 14 percent.

Town of Apple Valley, CA

It turns out that there are also other citizens on Facebook who understand these issues better than Puckett or the faceless paid mouthpiece who works long hours, burning through tax dollars to convince ratepayers to welcome a multi-million dollar indebtedness that will allow the Town to buy part of the water system we already have.

Base rate isn’t the rate you pay for water. Base rate is the capital (typically operating and indestructible costs) amount of expenditure that the PUC allows to be used against the billing rate. Unless I’m missing something there is nothing in that graph that states they will be raising rates. Looks like they will be spending a lot of money to fix old pipes.

Daniel Seagondollar, February 14 at 10:31am

… and …

Excuse me, but Mr. Sorensen’s slide refers to rate base, which is the value of the water system, not to base rates as you’ve claimed. Mr. Sorensen never mentions rate increases. He’s simply describing the future investment needed in the Park Water group’s (not just Apple Valley) infrastructure in coming years. It’s a shame you didn’t actually listen to his presentation or read the slides before posting this completely untrue accusation.

Carol Thomas Keefer, February 22 at 12:25pm

In fact, if you look at the slide, it shows a heading that indicates the subject matter to be projected spending on water infrastructure. There is even a reference to continued investment in replacement and upgrade projects.

So while trying to slime Liberty Apple Valley, the Town actually acknowledged that Liberty Apple Valley intends to continue to invest millions in our community, continuing in the footsteps of Apple Valley Ranchos.

So are the representatives of the Town lying or incompetent? You decide!

And by all means, let that cat out of the bag: Liberty Apple Valley cares about our water system and our community.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.

Update February 23, 2016: Liberty Apple Valley has just posted a rebuttal on Facebook.

Liberty Utilities is committed to providing quality, reliable water service and treating our customers with the highest level of respect. We purchased the system from the Carlyle Group, to partner with Apple Valley residents for the benefit of the community. That means operating in a transparent manner and sharing facts regarding rates, water quality and the need to maintain the water system for generations to come.

The Town of Apple Valley posted a photo of Liberty Utilities President Greg Sorensen making a presentation to shareholders, alleging that he was announcing a 14 percent rate increase in Apple Valley. That is not true. The presentation addressed California’s historic drought, conservation and the need to make infrastructure investments to strengthen conservation, water quality and system reliability for generations to come. Rates were never discussed. If you are interested in viewing the presentation, we are happy to send it to you in its entirety. Please contact us directly.

We will never play politics with the local water system or compromise your right to have quality service and sound infrastructure. Political decision-making can result in delayed or deferred maintenance, which puts the pipes and mains at risk, and causes more costly long term repairs. Cutting corners is the wrong way to run any kind of water system.

Liberty Utilities is committed to the people of Apple Valley and we want to work collaboratively with Town leaders to ensure you have the best possible water service. As you get to know us, you’ll see that we share facts and will support this community. You can count on that.

20160212 Liberty Utilities