Misunderstanding water

Dear Editor:
I’m hoping this will help clear up some misunderstandings about the possible purchase of the water company. Currently, Golden State Water asks for large increases in our water rates every three years. We conserve, and they profit.

As I understand it, the proposed mechanism for the possible purchase is a revenue bond. The revenue bond would be paid back using the money Claremont citizens pay as water rates. It would not be an additional tax or be tied to property values. If we pay for water at our current rate, with increases over time similar to those that GSW has been awarded recently, we can afford to pay up to $80 million for the water company without having rates any higher than we would if GSW continued to provide our water, and the bond would be repaid after 30 years.

It is like the choice between using your money to pay rent to a landlord forever or using the same amount to pay off a mortgage to buy the house. GSW includes the cost of infrastructure repairs and administration in the rates we pay, as well as considerable additional money for a profit.

A city-owned water company would not be adding in profit. If the cost of the purchase went up to $120 million, then rates would be a bit higher and the pay-back point a bit later, but the costs to Claremont citizens would stop increasing at the breakneck pace of current years, and we would have control over our water supply.

There was a recent letter suggesting that Claremonters wouldn’t approve a school bond as well as a revenue bond for purchasing the water company. I personally would vote for both. Water and schools are both important to our future. It does not have to be an either/or choice.

In general, Claremonters are very supportive of our schools and I believe the last bond failed not because we didn’t want to spend more money but because there was not a good accounting of how the money from the previous bond was spent, and because the district asked for the maximum possible with not enough clear information about how the proposed bond money was to be spent. 

Many people felt there was insufficient accountability and transparency, which made them hesitant to approve the bond. I’m sure the next bond proposal will take that into account.

Sue Schenk