Water rate increase of 28% is obscene

Posted 12/22/08

I've steered clear of Parker politics in the past few years. I've got a number of friends who are active in local politics, and they've acted with …

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Water rate increase of 28% is obscene


I've steered clear of Parker politics in the past few years. I've got a number of friends who are active in local politics, and they've acted with honor. Hence, I've kept my peace. But, the Parker Water and Sanitation District 28 percent water rate increase proposal moved me off center in a hurry.

I've many friends who are out of work in this economy. I've many friends who are on fixed incomes, as am I. I'm getting mighty tired of my piddely little income being used to bail out big automobile makers and mortgage lending firms who get greedy, get in trouble and need bailin' out. Now, Parker Water isn't a huge corporation, but it's sure big enough to make dumb moves just like greedy companies.

Frankly, I've been very disenchanted with the imperiousness of the water district leadership for a lot of years. I see Pareker Water as the nasty upstream rancher holdin' downstream folks by the throat. It can cut off water and seemingly can raise water prices with impunity.

However, there's one big difference. I can't fire the upstream rancher owner, but I sure can help vote the water board out of office and ask a new board to fire the folks who got us into a position where they want to increase water rates by 28 percent. I agree with Mayor David Casiano, who has said, "A 28 percent increase [while they make no cuts in their budget] in this economy is ludicrous and downright criminal."

I'd like an audit of the records of Parker Water to determine why it is asking for this enormous rate increase. I don't know who's been traveling where, how much car allowances have been, if there are liquor allowances, restaurant entertainment, travel and travel with spouses. But before the district starts charging Parker 28 percent higher water rates, I think a complete exposé of what's gone amiss is in order.

I've been told that the "company cars" driven by the upper echelon are far more expensive than the head folk of a small town water operation should enjoy. When I arrived here in 1986, the district was a little temporary building on Dransfeldt Road with a few workers. In 22 years, it's grown enormously. Frank Jaeger became manager early on. I see the Rueter-Hess Dam has been named after him. Quite a monument to a concurrent raise of 28 percent in the rate hike! Does that include a bronze plaque? Has Parker Water possibly overreached, overrun, and overspent in becoming a grand water fiefdom.

Mike Casey, district board member, quickly called the increase "the fault of the previous board." Mary Spencer, PWSD board vice president just as quickly labeled opposition to the raise as "name calling." Shep Root, board chairman just "terminated" discussion of the increase when the water started to get too hot, poor pun intended.

Well, I won't do name calling, but I will point out some shenanigans in scheduling the so called special meeting. It's jumped from date to date, and now from hour to hour. It had seemed firmly scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 22. But then, board members changed that at a very late date, to 5 p.m. Dec. 22. Now, that's bothersome. Why would they want to have a poor showing at the special meeting? Could it be they don't want to hear opposition? Some name calling might be offensive to sensitive board member ears.

Here's how I see the increase affecting an average family, like mine. Information Jaeger put out says an average resident's water bill will increase $15. Don't think that tells the story! Huge numbers of us live in homeowners associations. I spent years on an HOA Board. For five months of each year, those HOAs will kick into the top tier to keep grass remotely green. Who pays that skyrocketing water bill? That same little resident's skyrocketing HOA dues. The effect on local businesses will be huge. Who pays for that? Same little guys! A few of my friends outside town have wells and say it doesn't affect them. But they attend churches in town and shop here. Church and business lawns are watered, and the buildings use lots of water.

So, if this passes, Parker Water gets to us from every direction, as I see it. It'll be interesting to see how the board handles a large turnout for the special meeting, despite the dodging. I've e-mailed everyone I know in town limits. Will Parker Water defer the increase or will it do some real belt tightening just like the rest of us are doing?

Curt Dale, a longtime Parker resident, is a retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force and holds a Ph.D. in educational management. Contact him at mountaineermusings@yahoo.com.


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