What is the cost of water delivery? (July 10, 2015)

Apple Valley Town council member Scott Nassif’s recent letter promises, Apple Valley Town residents would only be paying for the actual cost of providing water to your home or business. (It’s about rate stabilization, Daily Press, July 9, 2015). It sounds good at first blush, but in fact it is hopelessly vague.

Documents provided by the Town indicate that the Town has spent well in excess of one million dollars so far in furtherance of its plan to seize control of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company. The Town says that number is lower, but the plain truth is that no one outside of the Town leadership knows the truth.

Why? Because the Town has not set up a committee to shepherd this project to its conclusion. The budget has no line items that even hint such a takeover has been underway for years. For that matter, the Town seems to have taken extraordinary measures to hide expenses for this project from the public, even going so far as to permit the Town attorney to go to court to fight the release of public documents bearing on this matter.

It’s obvious that if the Town is successful in taking over Ranchos, it will have to obtain a massive loan or issue a huge bond to finance the purchase, and that therefore there will be some sort of repayment schedule. Nassif’s letter alludes to this.

What’s not so self-evident is what other costs there will be. I don’t think anyone expects the Town to eat all its costs in obtaining a condemnation of Ranchos, including all the studies, all the ads, all the meetings, all the attorney hours, all the court costs, etc. It stands to reason that every penny spent on this project will be rolled into the final bill, thus making all these current expenditures part of the actual cost of providing water to your home or business, even though not a drop of water was purchased or even delivered as a result of the disbursement of these hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not only that, but each and every one of these costs is on top of the actual costs of running a water utility.

So while the Town seems to be promising from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, the truth of the matter may well be that it is telling us that some animals are more equal than others.

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