Editorial: Water, takeovers, and the people (September 23, 2015)

Barstow City Councilman Merrill Gracey told those attending a recent City Council meeting that he thinks the city should consider trying to take over Golden State Water Company.

Gracey said the city has proven it can successfully and efficiently run its wastewater treatment plant, and he thinks it could do the same with the water company.

We have a very talented staff. The talent exists, said Gracey, who said he’s grown tired of $400 water bills.

I think we can do it better. I want to explore ways to acquire it.

While Gracey said he is not speaking for the city, there’s no doubt where he stands. And he wants to know if Barstow residents agree.

We see nothing wrong with asking residents how they feel about the idea.

If Barstow’s citizens say yes, they’d like the city to take over Golden State Water Company and run the utility, that’s their right. It has been done in other cities and there are legally permissible ways to go about doing it.

But just as we’d like to see in Apple Valley, we’d hope Barstow would allow residents to vote on the idea if it gets that far along. We think democracy works best when the people have the opportunity to weigh in on issues of this magnitude. If they say do it, good luck and more power to them.

That said, we hope Gracey and everyone else in Barstow had the opportunity to read Jon Coupal op-ed piece in the Sept. 13 paper. The president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association warned Apple Valley residents, as he had warned Claremont residents before them, that the town’s true costs of taking over Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company likely will be much higher than anticipated.

Coupal and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association have been staunch defenders of Proposition 13, have fought to keep Californians’ taxes from going even higher than they already are and are wary of government promises on any level.

When Coupal says the costs of taking over a water company aren’t just a drop in the bucket, we think he knows whereof he speaks.

But again, if residents of Barstow and Apple Valley want their leaders to do that, we won’t argue with them.

We just hope they get to express their opinion at the ballot box so there can be no mistaking their wishes.

Source: Daily Press

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