Fourteen San Diego County mayors joined together this week to call on their fellow mayors across Southern California to protest unnecessary water rate increases and revenue over-collection by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
For the past 21 months, MWD has amassed cash reserves in its Rate Stabilization Fund that are projected to reach $800 million this fiscal year. That is $600 million more than MWD needs to meet all of its budget requirements and $320 million above its maximum reserve limit. MWD staff has recommended to the MWD Board of Directors that these funds be spent on unbudgeted uses, instead of providing rate relief to Southern California ratepayers. MWD has more than doubled its wholesale treated water rate over the past decade.
Learn more about MWD’s over-collection issue here.
Despite its huge pile of cash, MWD staff has proposed rate increases of 1.5% per year for 2015 and 2016. MWD management also asks its board to suspend the agency’s property tax limitation, imposed under its Act, again in fiscal years 2015 and 2016, which would result in the collection of at least $4 million each year more than its Act has limited it to collect. Read the board letter and staff recommendation here.
“If we all stand together and demand answers, we believe it is possible that MWD will find that no water rate increases are necessary for the next two years,” these mayors said.
The mayors are also encouraging ratepayers to speak out against MWD’s planned rate hike by attending MWD’s first rate and budget meeting at 9 a.m., Feb.10 at MWD headquarters, 700 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles. The 2015 and 2016 rates will be discussed during MWD’s Finance & Insurance Committee meeting.
In addition, the mayors urged concerned residents to attend MWD’s formal public hearing about rates scheduled for March 11 at MWD headquarters.
The mayors also asked ratepayers to write to MWD’s board opposing the rate increase and expressing their concern about the agency’s habitual over-collection. Those emails can be sent to MWD board at firstname.lastname@example.org.