To the Editor: Calls on city to lower sewer fees

Open letter to the Ridgecrest City Council:

I am requesting that the city council reduce the sewer fees next year by $90 per account. Last year I requested that the council not increase the sewer fees. I also suggested that if the council really thought they needed more sewer money, they should get it from the Navy, which is not paying its share of the sewer treatment costs. The council ignored both of my suggestions. This overcharging has created a wastewater fund cash surplus of more $19 million as of June 1.

The rates we are currently paying are based on the following assumptions. We needed a $4-million reserve. And we needed to bond for $50 million, which would create a yearly debt payment of $4 million.

Today we know we have more than $19-million cash surplus with an additional $3 million being repaid from the state, giving us a total of $22 million. Although we still need to have a reserve, there is considerable money that can be used as a down payment to reduce the bond amount.

When including the $3 million owed by the city to the wastewater fund and the next two years’ income, the total bond should be well below $30 million dollars. We also know that the state revolving fund interest rate is about 1.8 percent rather than the original assumed rate of more than 6 percent. Therefore the yearly debt payment is less than $1.3 million, or a reduction of $2.7 million.

The requested $90 fee decrease should result in a little over $1-million revenue decline. Please remember that the objective of Prop. 218, the rate guideline, is to ensure that the ratepayers pay their share of the cost of service, no more and no less. There is no allowance for building up a slush fund nor is there an allowance for today’s ratepayers paying for service to future ratepayers.

If you would like to discuss my proposal to reduce the fees by $90 next year, I can be reached at 760-793-6854. Since the deadline to put the sewer fee on the tax rolls is very soon, it is important to have a serious discussion about this immediately.

Stan Rajtora

Story First Published: 2017-06-23