After reviewing the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Water
Utility Enterprise Report for 2008, I was surprised to see that the
cost for the South County-Coyote Valley Programs Requirements
increased by 35 percent over the 2007-2008 budget. There is no way
that it can cost an additional $3,583,000 to manage the 17
different programs listed in this report.
Valley Water District raises and rate increases way out of line
After reviewing the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Water Utility Enterprise Report for 2008, I was surprised to see that the cost for the South County-Coyote Valley Programs Requirements increased by 35 percent over the 2007-2008 budget. There is no way that it can cost an additional $3,583,000 to manage the 17 different programs listed in this report.
It appears that many of these programs have been backfilled to cover the annual repayment for the Central Valley Water Project cost of $14,933,733.58 along with increasing the salaries and benefits.
This report states that raising the water rates to $275 an acre foot is only a 7.8 percent increase. Well, it’s a lot higher than that when measured against the Bay Area inflation rate of 3.3 percent, as used by the water district. It is actually 136 percent higher than the current inflation rate. In Exhibit 5 of their Operations Cost Projections, they show a 2.8 percent increase for 2009. Three of the eight line items for 2009 are salaries, benefits and overhead. These three items are much higher than 2.8 percent. Since the cost of the other five items are flat to no cost at all, they tend to mask the total column projection. The true projected increase cost for salaries is 11.5 percent, benefits is 19.6 percent and for overhead is 12.2 percent.
Do you know anyone receiving these kind of salary and benefit increases?
During my working career, I spent 36 years with Hewlett-Packard. In 1972, the economic conditions were poor. We were not selling enough products to support the total business operations. So, Mr. Hewlett asked all of the employees to take a 10 percent pay cut during that year, we all did and were able to keep our jobs while working through that tough time.
Today, we are all going through a rough economic time period. Many people have lost their jobs and many have lost their homes. The water district appears to be oblivious to the tough economic conditions that we all face today. They have the ability to tax the ratepayer at will to support their ever large state of employment. The Santa Clara Valley Water District needs to make a permanent 15 percent reduction in the work force now.
That would reduce the current employment by 120 and have an annual savings of $15,600,000. This does not mean eliminating job vacancies that have never been filled. This reduction is for people currently employed with the water district.
In a recent newspaper article, “Chairman Kamei stated that she welcomes ideas people have to keep prices low. She also said that for the first time in a long time, the board is looking at cutting costs in one place the community won’t mind, they’re looking at eliminating top level positions.”
About three years ago, I went before the board of Directors with a suggestion on reducing some management positions. The response from the board chairman at that time was, thank you for your ideas, but we need ideas on how we can make money.
In a letter to the board members, that is at the front of the 2008 report, by the current chief executive officer, as stated in her closing paragraph, “We also need to continue to maximize efficiencies in management of water, financial and human resources, in our quest to operate and maintain a sustainable Water Utility Enterprise for many decades ahead.”
I agree 100 percent. Now is the time to bite the bullet and put a meaningful plan into action. Something that all ratepayers will see, starting with the 2008-2009 proposed budget.
Robert J. Cerruti, San Martin
Taking another look at the issue of recyclables with true compassion
As I came out my door, I saw this old man rummaging quietly through my blue trash can. He looked at me like I would holler at him to stop or, maybe even worse, that I might call a cop.
He rode an old bike, and his hair was long and gray and as he was wondering what I might say, the thought occurred to me, that on this very day, he was only collecting what I was throwing away.
Now they labeled “recyclable” on the blue trash bin, which means someone else will use these items again, and he had found a very useful purpose for my trash. He would gladly collect it and turn it into cash
Now that seemed like a good idea for this older sir. He was just being a very creative entrepreneur. I’m sure the police force has much better plans than arresting old men for collecting glass trash.
So let us stop and think, not of a police action but as a community that has more compassion.
Tom Engebretson, Gilroy