Water surcharges (September 12, 2016)

Dottie Gowetski complains about not understanding the various surcharges on her water bill, and concludes that she is being ripped off (Liberty utilities, Daily Press, September 12, 2016). She now wants the Town to take over our water company.

If it’s just a matter of understanding, both the Liberty Utilities’ and the CPUC’s websites provide information about these surcharges. For example, Liberty Utilities has this to say about surcharges:

The surcharges listed on your bi-monthly bill can be broken down into two groups. These are Balancing Account Surcharges and WRAM/MCBA Balancing Account Surcharges. A Balancing Account monitors the source of supply costs for purchased power, Watermaster pumping fees, and leased water rights. It records the difference between actual supply costs and the estimated supply costs forecasted in our rates.

Town ownership of the water utility will make things worse. First, the Town will have to pay hundreds of millions to purchase Liberty Utilities. Second, the Town has promised that rates won’t go down for 30 years. Third, the Town will have these same variations in supply costs, money for which has to come from somewhere. And last but certainly not least, the Town’s finances are a disaster of epic proportions. To put it another way, with Liberty Utilities you may not understand the explanation, but with the Town in charge, there won’t be an explanation … or at least, not a good one.

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

Published Daily Press, September 18, 2016