No middle man; acquiring water system will not require more taxes (December 20, 2015)

I find it interesting that the Carlyle Group, which in its short tenure as owners of the Apple Valley Water System has given us the most expensive water rates in the region, wants to accuse the Town of unfairly taxing residents.

More interesting is how patently false Carlyle’s claims are.

Financial analysis after financial analysis has shown — unequivocally — that acquiring our water system will NOT require additional taxes. Eliminating corporate overhead, property taxes and other costs would more than pay off the debt service, leaving additional money for infrastructure improvements and system expansion.

Any tax increase proposed by the Town would require voter approval. Similarly, if the Town owned the system, all rate increases would need to be approved at a noticed public hearing at which customers would have the right to protest. The decision would be made by Town leaders right here in Apple Valley. By contrast, Carlyle needs approval only from the California Public Utilities Commission to increase your rates or add surcharges, the latest series of which will hit water customers three times in the coming months. That decision is made over 400 miles away in San Francisco by unelected bureaucrats appointed by the governor.

Another piece of misinformation circulating is that the Town will lose $1 million in tax revenue paid by Apple Valley Ranchos. The actual figure is closer to $350,000. However, the net benefit far outweighs that loss. Ranchos ratepayers are paying $10 to $14 million more than the cost of water right now — and that is before the rate increases that will go into effect on Jan. 1.

None of this has stopped Carlyle from continuing its campaign of misinformation and mistruths, most recently in an op-ed piece in this newspaper by Apple Valley Ranchos General Manager Tony Penna. The Town could spend considerable time — and your money — responding to every one of their claims, and we’re simply not going to do that.

Occasionally, though, we’re left with no choice but to set the record straight. Carlyle and Mr. Penna’s efforts to raise the ire of residents with false accusations of tax increases are nothing more than a ploy by a company that knows it has not operated in good faith with the Town or its ratepayers.

Further, for Mr. Penna to decry government serving itself, rather than the people it’s sworn to represent with our decision to pursue eminent domain is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. It is his company and its relentless pursuit of profit on the backs of ratepayers that ultimately left us with this one and only reasonable option.

Mr. Penna goes on to argue — again hypocritically and without any merit — that eminent domain is about expanding government and new sources of revenue. His is the same company, mind you, that wants to foist its misguided and costly expansion into the Yermo water system onto all of us.

It’s not the first time he and Carlyle have stoked fears by claiming government takeover of free enterprise. What they never point out is that Carlyle operates a government sanctioned monopoly in Apple Valley — not the kind of free enterprise where you, as a customer, could buy your water from someone else.

That fact alone is one of the reasons water rates in Apple Valley are the highest — by far — in the region, and put us in the national media spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

It’s not ending anytime soon. With the approval of the CPUC, Carlyle has put into motion its latest increases, including one set to take effect later this month that will raise the cost of water for average Apple Valley Water System customers by 28.6 percent. Additional increased costs could come as early as January.

By seeking acquisition, we intend to put a stop to this kind of rate gouging, and give you — the citizens of Apple Valley — ownership of this precious asset.

Again, I thank the community for your ongoing support, and look forward to the day when the Town is able to serve you as your water provider.

For the facts on community acquisition, please visit

— Barb Stanton is the mayor of Apple Valley.

Source: Daily Press