City Authorized to Borrow Funds to Purchase Claremont Water System
Claremont, CA – The City of Claremont announced today that voters have approved Measure W by a significant margin, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder preliminary General Election results. The unofficial results show the measure winning 71.38% of the vote. The County will certify official results by the end of the month.
The passage of Measure W authorizes the City to borrow up to $135 million in bonds for the purpose of purchasing Claremont’s water system, currently owned by Golden State Water Company (GSW). The Claremont City Council voted unanimously in July of this year to place the local bond measure on the ballot due to rising water rates and citizen complaints about lack of local control.
“The Claremont community has spoken and made it clear that local control of our water system is a priority,” said Joe Lyons, Mayor of Claremont. “Our City Council ensured voters had the facts before them, acted transparently and firmly believed this financing decision should be made directly by the residents of our community.”
Now that the City has received authorization to borrow the necessary funds, it may move forward in eminent domain proceedings. The City Council will hold a public hearing on November 25, 2014 to consider a “Resolution of Necessity” – a resolution determining the necessity of the acquisition and whether it is in the best public interest. During that hearing, the community and GSW will have an opportunity to address the City Council and learn important information on the potential acquisition. Passage of a Resolution of Necessity requires a 4/5 vote of the City Council and is required before the court process can proceed. Ultimately, if the City elects to advance the process, a jury would make the decision on the legality of the potential acquisition, benefit to the community and any associated purchase price.
As background, municipalities and public agencies acquire property for all types of public use, including schools, roads, water and sewer service, flood control and fire protection. These governmental entities are allowed by law to acquire private property through the eminent domain process. Government agencies must provide just compensation to the owner of that property and follow due process of law.
“Before launching into the eminent domain process, we invite Golden State Water one last time to come to the table and negotiate in good faith on a fair purchase price,” added Lyons
Concurrently, the City will be exploring options for operating and managing the water system and potential rate structures – all to be discussed and decided upon in open public meetings. For the past several months, the City has been working on the terms of an operational agreement with the City of La Verne and has been analyzing potential rate structures with a utility rate consultant.
“We recognize this is a complex process and there will be many important decisions along the way,” noted Lyons. “The City is committed to working hand in hand with the community as we go forward in this process. We will inform the community on upcoming decision points as we explore options.”
On a parallel track, the City will continue representing its residents at upcoming California Public Utilities Commission hearings regarding GSW’s current rate increase application. The California Public Utilities Commission will hold two public hearings in Claremont on December 8, 2014 at Taylor Hall to accept public testimony on the proposed rate increase.
The City has worked to provide residents with clear, fact-based information about Measure W during the past few months. The Claremont City Council will remain dedicated to keeping residents informed as the legal acquisition process unfolds. For ongoing information, please visit the City’s website at: www.ci.claremont.ca.us.