OPINION: Questions for water district board


Editor’s Note:

The letter below was sent to the Santa Fe Irrigation DIstrict Board of Directors and to this newspaper for publication.

To the SFID Board of Directors,

I am writing in protest to the rate increases proposed by the Santa Fe Irrigation District. I will attend the scheduled meeting and before you get my acceptance the following questions must be answered:

How much of the requested increase is to cover the loss of income by the ID caused by the reduced consumption of water by its customers? If you are increasing my costs by 30 to 50 percent to cover my reduced consumption of 20 percent, what would reducing my use by 50 or 70 percent cost me? I know that reduced consumption is important but to increase the cost when use is reduced seems to me to be a strong disincentive to use less.

How much is being used to pay huge salaries and pensions of present and former employees of the ID (as reported recently on a radio news program)? I will need to know if someone has looked into this question for the SFID, SDCWA, and the MWD and reported the findings.

Have the employees of the SFID received increases in pay or benefits in the last two years? If so, how do you justify raises when very few in the private and public sectors have received them. These are tough times; except in special circumstances, pay raises should not be given.

Has the board looked into all ways to cut expenses? I am sure you have but have you looked again, and again? I still see what appears to be “three to do the work, one to supervise, one to consult,” projects taking place. I know this is simplistic but a close look needs to be taken.

Finally, as to the automatic pass through, I strongly object to the proposal. If the cost of water has to increase, so be it. But if I have to pay more, I want to know that everything that can be done to keep the price down, has been done. A public utility that does not have competition looses the major incentive to keep prices down.

The only way prices are controlled is the diligent management of operations. An automatic price increase will bypass that level of control, and price increases, whether justified or not, will simply be passed through to the public, no questions asked.

— Herbert Holmquist