My updated proposal: What the Town of Apple Valley should do (November 25, 2019)

Back in 2015 when I thought there was still an outside chance that the Town of Apple Valley might be economically viable, I proposed a way for the Town to increase revenues and decrease operational costs by catching the green wave.

Now clearly, the green energy boom must go bust, given current technology and the fact that it exists purely due to heavy (and heavy-handed) government support, but even so, if the Town had acted on my proposal then, it might now be better positioned to save itself before the inevitable crash.

Because the Town failed to explore this option — or any other option that did not involve obtaining a payday loan to cover short-term expenses using long-term debt — I see only three options remaining.

Option One

The Town must immediately break off the insane eminent domain acquisition of Liberty Utilities. This will save some money that would otherwise have been wasted on attorneys.

Once they do that, they should without a moment’s delay offer to sell Liberty Utilities the wastewater system. This would bring the Town much-needed cash, free the Town from its continued mismanagement of the wastewater system, save the Town the expense of out-sourcing the billing for the wastewater system, consolidate all retail water deliveries within Liberty Utilities’ service area with Liberty Utilities (as the law and contractual agreements state they must be), and get our wastewater system into the hands of someone with actual knowledge about running it, so we don’t find ourselves one day facing the same mess we see in Victorville.

The Town must also sell any water rights it owns to Liberty Utilities, such as those it obtained in the purchase of the Apple Valley Country Club. Aside from any immediate financial benefit, this once again consolidates fresh-water delivery back with Liberty Utilities.

Finally, the Town must sell the golf course property to whoever will buy it — for whatever price. The Town has been coy about the original purchase price, but since 2012 operating the golf course has put the Town at least ten million dollars in the hole. It is possible the proceeds of a sale won’t cover the purchase price and the operational losses, but it would stop the operational losses. Who knows, it might even serve as a warning to future Town Councils to stay out of the private sector.

I don’t know what these assets might be worth, but with any luck, they might net the Town enough to pull itself out of the red and into the black.

Option Two

Apple Valley continues on its course, loses the eminent domain trial, and — facing huge bills without the means to pay them — declares bankruptcy ALA Desert Hot Springs. Perhaps the worse ramification of this would be the end of the contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff (SBCSD), so citizens would essentially be on their own for law enforcement.

Option Three

Apple Valley continues on its course, loses the eminent domain trial, and — facing huge bills without the means to pay them — has to disincorporate and become an unincorporated area in San Bernardino County.

The benefits of this course of action include:

  • We would still enjoy protection from the SBCSD.
  • Without the pressure to spend like a big town, it’s possible we could stop recent pushes for high-density housing in Apple Valley while still getting back on track financially.
  • We would save a ton of money in payroll costs.
  • We would eliminate much of the corruption at the local level.

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