The Community Advisory Committee, (CAC), has issued a statement on their position regarding the 2019 Water Rate Study and Protest. They urge FPUD customers to, “get the facts” prior to making a decision. So let’s examine some of those facts. Once the CAC was chosen, they were given a target figure around $2 million to be divided among the user groups using the new tiered rates. That target figure was raised several times when the CAC first met by increments of hundreds of thousands of dollars until it stopped at $2.8 million. The Study was underway in January or February 2019, but CAC wasn’t brought in until October 2019, long after most decisions were already made. They were given no access to actual figures contained in the Cost of Service analysis or actual usage data from the District. At this late point in the process, why did the District increase the target income multiple times in just days?
The biggest fallacy in the CAC argument is the “prevent further litigation” statement. The two current lawsuits were filed by just 2 of the 55 potential Plaintiffs who were all victims of the overcharging for the 319 Equivalent Dwelling Units, (EDUs), behind the Master Meters in the 2014 Water Rate Study. Since those lawsuits have been filed, the floodgates are opened for all the other remaining customers to file. The District appears to be proposing a fair, equitable formula of equivalent meter units, (EMU), be used to divide the overall fixed costs between customers. This wasn’t the case in 2014. This means all meters 1” and larger have been undercharged for their services and all of the 5/8” and ¾” customers have been overcharged and therefore subsidizing those larger meters. So the District also faces a potential class action lawsuit from the 1,957 customers still being overcharged today.
The Concerned FPUD Customers group is not opposed to a Water Rate Study or a potential rate increase. But we want it to be fair, equitable and compliant with California State laws. The proposed document meets none of these requirements. It lacks any compulsory language and allows the District to use wide ranging discretionary decisions. It lacks the supporting data necessary to analyze usage information used in the funding formulas. For instance the study claims the non-residential group has far less variation in seasonal usage and therefore should be given a fixed rate for consumption rather than a tiered rate. However, Table 8 shows there is only a 3 tGal difference between seasonal and non-seasonal demands. The average flow per residential unit varies from 5 – 22 tGal/month and from 28 - >157 tGal/month for non-residential units. The data appears contradict to what is claimed in the report that non-residential customers use less water.
The study also wants the customers to put $2.275 million dollars toward an $18 million total in an unsecured fund for distribution pipe replacement over the next 50 years. Line 35 of Table 5 of the Capital Improvement Program, (CIP), shows the project as on hold. Since our CIP in not secured for use only in the intended project, funds can be transferred and used by the District for anything at their discretion.
Finally, there are all of the important and disturbing concerns of customers in Attachments 2 and 2A of the CAC report which were ignored and are still left unanswered.
Our District has been taken advantage of and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even millions in the last two water rate increases in 2010 and 2014. Three current Board members and the current General Manager were all with the District during the 2014 increase. The CAC needs to realize they were used by the District as window dressing to give the appearance of community input to the process.
With all of the historical information regarding the actions, decisions and current behavior of the Board and General Manager, it would be foolish of those uninformed customers to believe they could trust the same people with millions of our customer dollars and a non-binding, discretionary document as a master plan for the next 5 years for the third time in a row. For more information, visit www.fpudprotest.org
Concerned FPUD customers Group