Re: ‘Cities in a Water Fight’ by Dean Starkman (October 18, 2015)

Editors, Los Angeles Times
cc: [email protected]

Thank you for assigning Mr. Starkman to author a very balanced informational article regarding our critical local water situation in the Town of Apple Valley. As stated, it is being replicated in several other locations. The unique 3-year drought is contributing to a much larger picture with population and land growth and development making some assets even more scarce and expensive.

Mr. Starkman’s attention was focused appropriately on water and infrastructure. However, Apple Valley, like 1000s of other cities / towns across the U.S. is also, as he states think they’re offloading political costs and they‘re not. Rialto got an up-front payment of $30 million for signing and $41 million improvement which bailed out the cash-strapped city, BUT no mention that the repayment was for 35-40 years at what percent interest for the grandchildren to pay off for the current debt crisis situation.

Similarly, the Town of Apple Valley budget is $103 million in expenses, $91 million in revenues with $11.3 million being transferred from enterprise funds (sewer and wastewater) with no plan, comment, nor consideration regarding any possible payback into the third-year of declining, already low-level reserve fund amounts. They awarded salary and benefit increases including necessary CalPERS public retirement payments. A large segment of TOAV citizens believe that the TOAV is so-cash strapped that they need a White Knight (as did Rialto) to bail-out current debt with a long-term repayment obligation for their grandchildren approved by the elected councilmembers blindly following the hungry lawyers who are billing several million dollars of litigation services. Town Manager Robinson was hired with very minimum of Management experience from a small Texas Town and Council / staff enjoy Expend, Expend, Expend culture and a golf course and recreational event losses which are out-of-control, but deflect attention of residents.

This same story is being repeated from City of Bell fame (same law firm as TOAV), to Town of Apple Valley, to numerous other local governmental agencies within California and across the U.S., unfortunately. I would ask that you consider expanding your focus on the much-bigger picture being created right before those of us who Love our Country, but don’t trust our Government. We are drowning in bebt even at zero/low interest rates. I won’t say PLEASE HELP but factual help is needed.

— Al Rice, Apple Valley