Questions for the TOAV ahead of tonight’s water meeting (April 28, 2015)

Tonight the TOAV is holding a big meeting at which they promise to tell everyone about community ownership of our water, including how it will benefit us, how we will pay for it, and what the next steps are.

Without knowing what they will be say, or even if they will allow questions from the community, I created a list of questions to which I would like to have answers, but which I think will not be addressed by TOAV.

  1. Is the Town’s claim to expertise in running a water utility, based on its operation of a tiny water system, which it sold to Ranchos Water Company 15 years ago?
  2. Does the Town believe that running a sewer system means it is qualified to run a water utility?
  3. Is it the Town’s belief that copying the practices of other cities is a good way to ensure Apple Valley’s better way of life?
  4. Is it the Town’s belief that if a mob declares that water rates are too high, then the Town has to act to appease the mob?
  5. Is it the Town’s intention to take control of every business in Apple Valley that is owned by out-of-town interests?
  6. Is it the Town’s contention that attacking the oldest continually operating business in Apple Valley after receiving decades of excellent service, demonstrates that the Town is business-friendly?
  7. Is it the Town’s contention that preventing Ranchos from building additional water storage facilities is a benefit to its citizens, especially now that we are facing drought conditions?
  8. Does the Town expect us to believe that if IT wants a water rate increase after the takeover, the citizens will be better protected by the officials who want the increase, than by the California Public Utilities Commission and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates who currently protect them?
  9. Is it the Town’s contention that a 68 percent increase in water rates over ten years is outrageous, but a 75 percent increase in trash and sewer rates over that same period is evidence of sound fiscal policies?
  10. Is it the Town’s contention that having enough revenues, reserves, and credit to spend hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing Ranchos and the water rights to go along with it, is better than lowering taxes, or fixing roads, or putting in curbs, gutters, and other infrastructure?
  11. Is it the Town’s position that when major capital improvements are needed to our water system, that it is better for the Town to come up with the money than it is for people outside our community to invest in our town?
  12. Is there any connection between the Town’s golf course, parks, and median landscaping being such heavy users of water, with the sudden interest in purchasing Ranchos?
  13. Does the Town still maintain that it has spent less than $250,000 in acquisition-related expenses, when its own documents and public records indicate that it has paid in excess of $900,000 as of March 2015?
  14. Does the Town expect us to believe that it will be forthright in reporting the true costs of the acquisition and operation of a water utility, given its track record with the golf course?
  15. Does the Town have a spending cap, such that if acquisition costs rise above that figure it will discontinue this process?
  16. Is it the Town’s position that it is better that the Town spend nine percent of the gross revenues from a water utility on debt service, than for a private water utility to make a nine percent profit?
  17. Given the Town’s position that Ranchos’ rate increases are so egregious, why is the Town baking those increases into its post-acquisition takeover model, rather than promising to eliminate them?
  18. Does the Town intend to use condemnation and eminent domain to get its way?

Finally, I hope that the Town will stop falsely attacking Ranchos; will stop attempting to control the narrative using fear, uncertainty, and doubt; and will start telling the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth about this and other matters.

I look forward to your responses.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.