Will citizens benefit? (October 8, 2015)

In the article about Assemblyman Jay Obernolte’s (R-Hesperia) address to Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce members, you quote Mayor Pro Tem Barb Stanton as saying but at the end of the day the town and its citizens will benefit …. (Assemblyman discusses benefits, pitfalls of water system acquisition, Daily Press, October 8, 2015).

We need a little more clarity about when (if ever) that day will come.

If the Town actually does manage to secure a bond large enough to purchase Apple Valley Ranchos, as it proposes to do, what will the term of that loan be? If the term of that loan is the same as that obtained by Big Bear, it will be a minimum of 30 years before the residents of Apple Valley could even hope to benefit. After all, the Town has been quite clear that even after it seizes Ranchos, water rates will not be going down. (They can't because the Town will have a massive bond payment to cover, as well as other general fund expenses that are currently running at huge deficits.) In addition, the Town’s Draft Environmental Impact Report makes clear that any future infrastructure maintenance or extensions will be financed with additional bond measures.

It’s easy to say that citizens will benefit sometime in the ill-defined future, especially when that future is so distant that Mayor Pro Tem Stanton will almost certainly be out of office (and thus unaccountable), and many current residents will have passed on or moved away.

Instead of empty promises, the residents of Apple Valley need an explicit agreement from the Town spelling out exactly what the full costs will be and when those benefits kick in (if ever). However, the Town doesn’t know what it’s buying, it doesn’t know what it’s going to cost, it doesn’t know where the money is coming from, doesn’t know what the money is going to cost, doesn’t know how to run a water utility, doesn’t know who is going to run the system, and has a history of failure where water systems are concerned. Therefore, any promises or agreements from the Town won’t be worth the paper on which they appear.

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