Letter: Water rates (April 28, 2015)

I read Mr. David Christman’s letter that tier pricing of water is in jeopardy. He apparently is referring to an appellate court ruling for a case originating in San Juan Capistrano. He is mistaken that it was tier rates only that were involved, however. The primary issue was a publicly controlled water company set tier rates without establishing the cost of service to justify the rate increases.

The court ruled that Proposition 218 was violated. This is an important distinction for ratepayers to understand. Locally, if the town of Apple Valley were to take possession of the privately owned Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company, citizens protesting rate increases from the town would need to get two-thirds of the voting residents to protest. That hasn’t happened in Apple Valley since Prop. 218 became law. Trash and sewer rates are regularly increasing. There is no ratepayer advocate if the town owns the water.

As to Mr. Christman’s rate comparisons, during the trial in Missoula, Montana (a city that is trying to seize its water company from Carlyle, which also owns Apple Valley Ranchos) an expert called to testify said that you can’t compare rates in different regions because each area has unique costs and capital improvement needs. Does Mr. Christman know that Victorville annually purchases large amounts of water from Aqua Capital Management, gutted their water district’s financial reserves once seized, and is considering water rate increases after years of subsidizing their water consuming businesses?

There is no free lunch.

Source: David Mueller, Apple Valley, Daily Press