Wednesday, April 16, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Stop the EID ‘fat’ tax

EDITOR:

EID’s Board majority says they have cut spending “to the bone.” General Manager Jim Abercrombie cumulatively claims he has saved over $20 million from assorted actions for ratepayers and that the last three EID budgets have been “flat,” “nearly flat,” and “nearly identical.”

Somehow these claims are contradicted by EID water rates increasing 102 percent from 2010 to 2015.

Here are the facts:

• EID personnel, materials and services spending has increased 13 percent from $40.4 million in 2010, Abercrombie’s first full year as General Manager, to $45.7 million budgeted spending for 2013.
• $3.1 million of accounting gimmicks obscure much of the gross $5.3 million spending increase for personnel, materials and services.
• Employee benefits and paid time off now average $49,000 annually per employee and account for more than 30 percent of rates.
• Unfunded pension and retiree medical liabilities have grown another $6 million to $53 million since Abercrombie became General Manager, even after a $6 million payment from EID reserves in early 2012.
• EID plans to raise $60 million new debt within 12 months to continue its $15 million per year deficit spending. This will require another 8 percent of rate increases.

Rather than “flat,” “nearly flat,” or “nearly identical” spending, the 102 percent of rate hikes prove that EID ratepayers are being victimized by EID’s non-abated “fat” spending.

Until EID Board members direct General Manager Jim Abercrombie to implement real bottom line cost cuts and to eliminate the smoke and mirrors accounting gimmicks, EID’s runaway double digit rate hikes will continue.

GREG PRADA
Cameron Park

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 16 comments

  • SparkyDecember 12, 2012 - 8:21 am

    So what are the specific solutions, point by point, step by step?? Is EID's compensation structure comparable to other districts of similar size to the north and south in the foothills? Are those entities experiencing the same type of rate increases? What is the cost of recruiting replacements for the top two positions and what is the likely compensation to secure competent replacements? Look, it is easy to snipe from the sidelines, but solutions are always much harder to come by. Regulatory pressure designed for the large, urban purveyors are crushing the smaller, mostly rural water agencies with increasing burdens and standards. No one anywhere ever wants to pay more for the same end product, but how much of that is really under the control of EID? Ideally, someone in the noisy group should make an offer to work for a year as the asst GM for a $1, learn the business and then itemize the changes along with cost savings.

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  • NancyDecember 12, 2012 - 8:54 am

    Didn't these good ole boys just vote themselves a big raise? http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/10/5044685/el-dorado-water-district-leaders.html#disqus_thread

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2012 - 7:47 pm

    Greg Prada,continues to support my theory of Greg Prada is “the magician’s left hand”. I first posited this theory here - LINK - Parker unveils plans - Marble Valley, Serrano Westside, Pedregal and Lime Rock projects included ON THAT TGHREAD I POSTED - Where are you? Greg, are you really, REALLY, actually concerned about EID rates? Or are you the “magician’s left hand”. Are you a developer’s agent? Are you actually a paid agent of Parker et al whose job it is to distract with feigned outrage over past sins in order to distract from future “larceny”? Come on, Greg, show your stuff. Take on Parker. I dare you. IN ADDITION I POSTED - FACT - The water to supply this project will be the MOST EXPENSIVE water produced and delivered by EID. The required water CANNOT be delivered by gravity from the eastern plants. Those transmission lines are already running over capacity in the summertime. The required water will have to be pumped ($$$) up to EDH treatment plant (~ 300 vertical ft.) From there it will have to be pumped ($$$) to Oak Ridge Tank – (~170 vertical ft.). From there it will have to be pumped ($$$) to Bass Lake Tanks –(~540 vertical ft.) (from Folsom Lake to BLT approximately 1010 vertical feet). The pumping and transmission infrastructure from Oak Ridge to BLT needs to be built. The transmission infrastructure to Parker/Gallo development needs to be built. Do the math. $50,000,000 from the developers might be a starting point. Greg Prada waves his arms at staff and contracted benefits. He does not itemize how those staff and benefits have been reduced over the last few years. Instead he points to $50,000,000 (fifty million) in additional new debt. And we look at staff and benefits??? NO. Look at Parker, Gallo and the Diamond developers. DEMAND MONEY FROM THE DEVELOPERS. Greg, take on the real future rate drivers. You continue to DISTRACT!!!

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2012 - 7:51 pm

    oops too bold - Greg Prada,continues to support my theory of Greg Prada is “the magician’s left hand”. I first posited this theory here - LINK - Parker unveils plans - Marble Valley, Serrano Westside, Pedregal and Lime Rock projects included ON THAT TGHREAD I POSTED - Where are you? Greg, are you really, REALLY, actually concerned about EID rates? Or are you the “magician’s left hand”. Are you a developer’s agent? Are you actually a paid agent of Parker et al whose job it is to distract with feigned outrage over past sins in order to distract from future “larceny”? Come on, Greg, show your stuff. Take on Parker. I dare you. IN ADDITION I POSTED - FACT - The water to supply this project will be the MOST EXPENSIVE water produced and delivered by EID. The required water CANNOT be delivered by gravity from the eastern plants. Those transmission lines are already running over capacity in the summertime. The required water will have to be pumped ($$$) up to EDH treatment plant (~ 300 vertical ft.) From there it will have to be pumped ($$$) to Oak Ridge Tank – (~170 vertical ft.). From there it will have to be pumped ($$$) to Bass Lake Tanks –(~540 vertical ft.) (from Folsom Lake to BLT approximately 1010 vertical feet). The pumping and transmission infrastructure from Oak Ridge to BLT needs to be built. The transmission infrastructure to Parker/Gallo development needs to be built. Do the math. $50,000,000 from the developers might be a starting point. Greg Prada waves his arms at staff and contracted benefits. He does not itemize how those staff and benefits have been reduced over the last few years. Instead he points to $50,000,000 (fifty million) in additional new debt. And we look at staff and benefits??? NO. Look at Parker, Gallo and the Diamond developers. DEMAND MONEY FROM THE DEVELOPERS. Greg, take on the real future rate drivers. You continue to DISTRACT!!! ffesge 341

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  • ratepayerDecember 12, 2012 - 8:24 pm

    My goodness, Phil Veerkamp, you are going to have a stroke. What is your fatal attraction with Prada? Since you seem to think you have such great vision of what ought to be done, why don't you get out of the grand stand and take action yourself?

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2012 - 8:40 pm

    What is your fatal attraction with Prada? OH MY! THREATS? - Seriously, Mr. Prada continues to abuse his time spent on the COST OF SERVICE committee. The vast majority of his assertions are refuted LINK - HERE - EID by the Numbers Greg continues to re-bundle old refuted arguments. His agenda is likely other than what it seems. While we are occupied an Greg’s outrage the real drivers of rate increases – THE DEVELOPERS – continue to fly under the radar.

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  • David TaylorDecember 12, 2012 - 8:44 pm

    Mr. Veerkamp would do better to direct his serious questions toward elected officials, not a private citizen. Even if merely half of what Mr. Prada writes is true, EID's board of directors are not acting prudently, nor honestly. I have listened to Mr. Ambercrombie's explanations in person, and it is obvious he has little patience with the pesky rate payer. Mr. Prada does not have the authority to confiscate my discretionary income thru incompetence and arbitrary water rate increases; EID Board members do. Who is the greater threat to the average citizen, Mr. Veerkamp?

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    David Taylor, Greg Prada was INSTRUMENTAL in raising MY water rate. Through his service on EID’s COST OF SERVICE committee he carried and helped sell the “socialization of rates” i.e. equating pumped water rates with gravity fed rates. He helped the BIG BOYS get subsidized water at the expense of gravity customers. Greg is not done. Greg continues to argue that rate payers are subsidizing AG water rates. REALLY? The AG community BUILT EID. They don’t need the potable water for irrigation. Greg raised MY gravity water rate. Greg’s arguments carried the day and gave developers downhill cheaper water.

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  • David TaylorDecember 12, 2012 - 9:36 pm

    Mr. Veerkamp, 1. Are EID worker benefits substantially better than those in the private sector? Yes, by a lot. Comparing EID's benefits with other rogue irresponsible municipalities is not sensible. EID is simply the tallest dwarf. Better to compare total compensation with the private sector. There is no question that EID, like most other municipalities, has massive future liabilities that will be met with higher rates. I went to college for 6 years, work 50 hours per week, and diligently set aside for retirement, but will never have the retirement package comparable to EID workers. 2. Has EID been transparent about how they spend their money? No. 3. Has Mr. Ambercrombie chided rate payers for asking fair questions about current spending and future liabilities? Yes. No one, including elected officials, is above scrutiny. Ambercrombie and the board should welcome the criticism and provide clear financial reports. I have personally wasted time attending EID dog-and-pony shows, and can tell you that getting facts is like pulling teeth. 4. EID has earned our distrust. You can blame fiscal watchdogs, developers, and the weather all day long. That doesn't make EID any more credible.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2012 - 9:45 pm

    Greg Prada ‘s net effect has been the subsidization of richer customers(Serrano, EDH, CP) by less affluent (poorer) customers - the up-hill rubes.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    David, you're chasing chickens that have flown the coop. I’m simply arguing that while you chase the past Parker, Gallo et al will be greasing an EID CIP of . . . oh . . . say . . . $70,000,000. Go ahead. Fire the GM. Replace the Board. It will only be easier for the BIG BOYS (who WILL pick a new GM and BOARD)

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  • Sue TaylorDecember 12, 2012 - 11:31 pm

    Phil - I'm with you. I wish the people in this county would elect a more responsible Board. Is that possible?

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 13, 2012 - 4:09 am

    Sue Taylor suggests, “. . . elect a more responsible Board. Is that possible?” – No. Sue, your suggestion in premised on the theory that the present Board is irresponsible. Over the last few years the Board and GMs Gallier and Abercrombie have responsibly slashed staff as well as FUTURE benefits. I emphasize “future” benefits because past benefits are vested rights. They belong to the retirees and present employees sort of like property rights. We may not like that answer, but that is the state today. Slashing Abercrombie’s and Cumston’s salary might feel good. But that will not counter Parker, Gallo and company’s argument, “EDC’s economy is in the tank. We need jobs. EID needs more accounts. Build us some infrastructure and we’ll give you jobs and customers.” It sounds responsible to build the infrastructure that will give us jobs and new paying customers. CONVINCE THE EXISTING AND FUTURE BOARDS TO COST SHARE FUTURE INFRASTRUCTURE WITH THE DEVELOPERS.

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  • ratepayerDecember 13, 2012 - 5:14 am

    Phil Veerkamp, your love affair with the EID Board proves you are clueless and a self-serving hypocrite. Why don't you point out that the EID RETROACTIVELY goosed YOUR pension formula by 35% in 2005. The collective result? EID went from a surplus in its pension funding to more than $45 million unfunded pension liabilities as showcased in the SacBee earlier this year. The SacBee pointed out that EID has the second worst unfunded pension liabilities percentage in the Sacramento region....courtesy of that great EID board which helped you, as an EID retiree, pig out at ratepayer expense.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 13, 2012 - 6:40 am

    ratepayer (greg) says, “Why don't you point out that the EID RETROACTIVELY goosed YOUR pension formula by 35% in 2005.” Greg, I was not retired in 2005. I believe that it was GM Ane-make-it-all-better-with-the-disgruntled-employees-with-oodles-of-bucks-kiss bestowed 2.7 at 55. Succeeding GMs and Boards continue to struggle with the Deister years. Yes, pension reform is a must. Are you asserting that this Board has the LEGAL ABILITY to claw back previously negotiated benefits? REALLY? You present distractions from a tougher EID stance visa vie developers.

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  • Sue TaylorDecember 13, 2012 - 8:24 pm

    "CONVINCE THE EXISTING AND FUTURE BOARDS TO COST SHARE FUTURE INFRASTRUCTURE WITH THE DEVELOPERS." You would think this would be a no brainer.. Parker, Gallo say “EDC’s economy is in the tank. We need jobs. EID needs more accounts. Build us some infrastructure and we’ll give you jobs and customers.” Really? for many of us our county is in the tank because of them. What jobs are they bringing? What economic benefit? They build out with outside vendors and put the cost of services on those that live here. http://saveourcounty.ning.com/video/the-economics-of-land-use-planning

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