Cost of water (October 21, 2015)

While the focal point of letters to the editor and the commentaries regarding the acquisition of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company has been the cost of takeover, one aspect needs to be addressed more openly than it has.

If you are a civilian company with both government and civilian contracts in-house, it becomes necessary to separate their financials so one is not subsidizing (paying) the other. That is, right now, the water an Apple Valley resident or business uses is billed as a direct cost to them and not to the taxpayers of the town. You use it, you pay for it. (The cost per cubic feet and the tiers are another issue and not pertinent to this letter.) When I worked for Boeing, if you worked on a military aircraft design (for example), you logged into a military contract number so your hours would be allocated to the military. It was definitely verboten to then work on Boeing civilian aircraft and charge that time to the military. You could lose the military contract if you were caught. And let’s face it, if you could get away with it, the civilian aircraft’s design cost would go way down, making the sale price of the aircraft lower so as to beat out your competition. However, using a cost plus basis for any design work for the military would then go up. And you know who pays the bill for the military contract.

I don’t pretend to know if Apple Valley administration plans on keeping the operation of the acquired water company separate from all their other operations, but if pressure becomes high enough, who would know that one of the clerks is working on water billing or water repair or any other water-related work but is on the general budget when doing so. So what? Well, I am frugal with my water usage but maybe someone else isn’t. By having Bob or Mary Jane charge her time to the general budget (or even another department) while supplying labor free to the water department, that decreases the operation costs of water while increasing my costs in taxes to pay for his or her time.

I think there may be pressure for Apple Valley town administration to show the purchase of Apple Valley Ranchos as a good deal and they can be heroes in doing so. However, if they don’t apply the actual cost of running the water company to the water company, then they are asking me, a taxpayer, to help pay for those that use massive amounts of water and to some extent have a vested interest in the project to acquire the water company.

To the extent there may not be the discipline necessary to show the true cost of running a water company and the need to show business competency, I have reservations about this whole deal.

— Robert Faulks, Apple Valley

Source: Daily Press