Some of the new directors for Georgetown Divide Public Utility District indicated that while they were campaigning there were a lot of complaints regarding the late fee of $25. In fact, one director was saying that the district was violating the California Public Utility Code. They were so upset that during their first meeting on the board, they set up an evening workshop to be held in January to discuss the matter.
The night of the meeting there were 14 participants but not one person came to complain regarding the late fees. Instead the public strongly supported the current late fee policy.
Some of the topics meandered from subject to subject. One subject brought up by one of the directors was the desire to add more water to the minimum tier without additional cost, which would violate new state regulations requiring a reduction in water use by all residents. This free additional water was justified by the director saying “water falls from the sky and runs downhill,” indicating that water is free. This was surprising coming from a director who is supposed to set policy for the entire district. It did not take into account the many costs of running a district, including all the state and federal mandates.
The board just this month authorized $53,000 for a maintenance project. There are so many other expenses that frequently are not taken into consideration. The dams were built years ago but now the state requires they be inspected — $26,000 annually. Some of the ditch that was built many years ago crosses some of U.S. Forest Service land. That permit now costs an annual fee of $9,000. There is a need to regularly build reserves in case of a major disaster. This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many expenses.
This district currently is financially sound. There has been no need for layoffs, furloughs or other severe cutbacks. The reserves are adequate and the audit gave the district high marks. The district came in under budget last year. The morale of the workers has been very good but will not remain that way long with constant threats of cutting salaries. It is a smooth running operation with the lowest-cost water in the area.
What other utility bill is less than $22 per month? Not PG&E, not telephone, not TV. According to a regional newspaper, a large part of the Sacramento area had bills of $52.60 for two months in 2008. By late 2010 the bill rose to $98.79 for two months. By 2014 the bill will grow to about $140 for two months.
Have you checked the bills of some of our nearby neighboring water districts?
I urge you to attend the regular GDPUD board meetings and judge for yourself how things are going. Be involved. This is your district.