Who to trust with our water: I’m voting yes on Measure W.
by Freeman Allen
With Claremont's Measure W on the November 4 ballot, Golden Water Company would like us to be afraid every household will pay more than $101 per month for 30 years on water bills if we vote yes. What an exaggeration! That amount would support more than $200 million in revenue bonds, but an accredited appraiser found the value of the water system to be $55 million. Those who use such higher numbers are trying to mislead -- or are careless. They overlook $8+ million Claremont water users could save with rates like those in neighboring cities. That amounts to an average saving of $64 per month. That's easy to check, just compare your water bill with what it would be in La Verne or Pomona.
Suppose the cost of the water system turned out to be $70 million, well above the $55 million appraised value. If the bond payment is subtracted from the saving an average bill could immediately go down by about $8 per month!
That "$101 per month" to pay off the bonds is from a study by Mark Sterba, as he says in a Comment in the October 23 Bulletin. It's based on an unsupported high cost assumption. Worse, he doesn't mention savings. A businessman should know the bottom line is what matters: savings minus expenses. That’s just one of several errors. In another he claims Claremont’s Feasibility Study is seriously flawed because it assumes water consumption will go up -- and the city Sustainability Plan (incorrectly called Sustainable Claremont's plan) calls for a decrease. But they are not comparable. The predicted increase (taken from a Golden State Water Company document) is to account for population growth, while the decrease in the Plan is a goal for conservation which will surely require recycling waste water and better capture of storm water runoff.
Will water bills go up a little or down a little when Claremont takes control? We don’t know. If a court decides the fair price is twice the $55 million appraised value, which seems unlikely, average bills could go up $24 the first year, but they would soon be less than under Golden State’s aggressive rate increases. For me the immediate small change in my water bill is not nearly as important as being out from under this corporate monopoly as water becomes scarce. It’s a matter of who to trust, who will have our best interest at heart. I’m voting yes on Measure W.