About the water rates in Pine/Strawberry.

Comments

Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think these thoughts on the increase in water rates in Pine and Strawberry and a couple of other things,are exactly new, but I do think they may help to clear the air.

A few years ago we had a recall election. The issue was either to go ahead with the drilling of the K-2 well or to buy the water companies and run them ourselves. I was for the K-2 well. My side lost. My duty then, having had the chance to vote, and having lost, was to support the result. I have done my best to do that. It's called democracy in action.

There was a lot of campaign rhetoric during the election. Part of it was that there would be "no rate increases." My comment? Rhetoric and reality are rarely the same thing. We could not possibly spend millions of dollars buying water companies, hiring people to run them, repairing infrastructure, and buying or drilling new wells without paying for it.

It was obvious that a rate increase would be needed. That's the reality. Well, we got what we wanted, or at least the folks who voted for the recall did. Now we have to pay for it. Me too. I voted the other way, but I get to pay for it too. Am I complaining? No. A board was elected. It was given a job. My attitude is to let the board members do what they were asked to do. Otherwise why elect them?

What about the fact that the board instituted the rate increase before the date we thought it was due to go into effect? Well, when that happened people were understandably confused. And when they asked questions and didn't get answers they got angry.

But now we have an answer. Gary Lovetro--our board president--says the board needed the extra money to meet the budget. To my way of thinking that's that. It's our board, the bills are our bills, and if we have to pay a higher rate to pay our bills then that's what we have to do.

My only comment to the board is a gentle hint that the more they tell us about what they are doing, and why, the more they can count on our support.

And here's a gentle, but pointed, prod in the right direction. Board members, you have decided to buy the Milk ranch Well. You've decided to buy it without an appraisal. Surely you didn't make those two decisions without good reason, but the trouble is you haven't told the people who elected you what those reasons are.

If you'd rather have a pat on the back for a job well done instead of having to listen to carping all the time please keep us in the loop. We don't expect you to tell us things that would, for example, put you in a bad bargaining position, but please keep us informed.

It worked when Gary told us why the rate increase was applied earlier than we expected, and it will keep on working as long as you keep us in the loop.

How about it?

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, you are a bit more forgiving than I am. I cannot accept Gary Lovetro's explanation for the early application of the water rate increase because the early application of the rate change should have been discussed and voted upon in an open meeting of the PSWID Board before they surprised everyone with the December billing. When you are acting in a public body you cannot just say, "O my gosh, we don't have enough money, we will just apply the rate increase to December bills because they are due in January."

When did they find out that PSWID would need the money earlier than they had anticipated? Did they first discover this budget shortfall when the December statements were being prepared? What caused this earlier need for an increase? What mistakes were made when they budget was prepared with the "Effective January 1, 2011" date? What steps are being taken to avoid these mistakes in the future?

I hope PSWID will start keeping us in the loop by starting to answer some questions about the rate increase. However, I seriously doubt that PSWID feels any need to keep the public they are supposed to be serving "in the loop."

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

"... the early application of the rate change should have been discussed and voted upon in an open meeting of the PSWID Board..."

Could be. Could very well be. I will say it wouldn't have hurt anything if it had been discussed in an open meeting. I would picture the discussion going something like this:

Whoever: "It appears that we are going to have a shortfall in the budget."

Whoever II: "Anyone got any ideas?"

Whoever: "I was thinking that we could institute the new rates a month early. That would cover it nicely, and the rate payers would understand the need for it."

Whoever II: "Sounds good to me. Shall we talk about it some more or vote on it?"

I served on the board for a Homeowners Association. That's about the way it would have gone at one of our meetings, plus or minus a couple of other comments."

Of course, there's the open meeting law, which requires that everything be on an agenda, which if you want my opinion is more of a pain in the you know what than a help to the electorate.

You have a lot of questions there in your second paragraph.

I don't think you'll ever get answers to the last two questions, though. Why? Because they are characterized as "mistakes." Maybe they were mistakes and maybe they weren't, but we will never get peace up here until we talk to each other in non-confrontational terms.

And no, that's not a criticism of you. If anything, it's a self-criticism, since I am engaged on a campaign to correct the way we ALL act and talk, and ALL includes--as Miss Piggy used to put it--moi.

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, you are correct I should have worded my last 2 questions differently. It definitely would have been more politically correct to leave out the word "mistake." Would "What was overlooked in the preparation of the budget? What is being done to ensure that these items are not overlooked in the future?"

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

It's very gracious of you to change the wording, Bernice.

I would truthfully like to see things settle down to the point where we could support, and maybe even help, the board.

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Talking about the open meeting law, I wondered what most of you think of it.

Then it occurred to me that most of you are probably in the same situation I'm in: you knownabout the law, and have a genera idea what its says, but have never read it. So I went out on the net and got a copy, plus some explanataory comments. you an do the same thing id you want. Here's a link for you: www.azleg.gov/ombudsman/Open%20Meetin...

To make things a bet easier, I've also extracted some of the important parts and posted them here. It'll take a couple or three posts. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

OPEN MEETING LAW 101 Arizona’s Open Meeting Law in a Nutshell Information compiled by: Liz Hill, Assistant Ombudsman – Public Access Last revised August 2010


Two core concepts

“All meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings.” A.R.S. § 38- 431.01(A).

“It is the public policy of this state that meetings of public bodies be conducted openly and that notices and agendas be provided for such meetings which contain such information as is reasonable necessary to inform the public of the matters to be discussed or decided.” A.R.S. § 38-431.09.


Why do we have an Open Meeting Law?

  1. To protect the public. a. To avoid decision-making in secret. b. To promote accountability by encouraging public officials to act responsively and responsibly.
  2. To protect public officials. a. To avoid being excluded (notice). b. To prepare and avoid being blind sided (agenda). c. To accurately memorialize what happened (minutes).
  3. Maintain Integrity of government.
  4. Better informed citizenry.
  5. Build trust between government and citizenry.

What constitutes a meeting?

A meeting is a gathering, in person or through technological devices of a quorum of a public body at which they discuss, propose or take legal action, including deliberations.
A.R.S. § 38-431(4). This includes telephone and e-mail communications.


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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Who must comply with Open Meeting Law?

Public bodies. "Public body" means the legislature, all boards and commissions of this state or political subdivisions, all multimember governing bodies of departments, agencies, institutions and instrumentalities of the state or political subdivisions, including without limitation all corporations and other instrumentalities whose boards of directors are appointed or elected by the state or political subdivision. Public body includes all quasi-judicial bodies and all standing, special or advisory committees or subcommittees of, or appointed by, the public body. A.R.S. § 38-431(6).

2 "Advisory committee" or "subcommittee" means any entity, however designated, that is officially established, on motion and order of a public body or by the presiding officer of the public body, and whose members have been appointed for the specific purpose of making a recommendation concerning a decision to be made or considered or a course of conduct to be taken or considered by the public body. A.R.S. § 38-431(1).

The Secretary of State, Clerk of the County Board of Supervisors, and City and Town Clerks must conspicuously post open meeting law materials prepared and approved by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office on their website. A person elected or appointed to a public body shall review the open meeting law materials at least one day before the day that person takes office. A.R.S. § 38-431.01(G)


What is Required under the Open Meeting Law?

  1. Notice

Public bodies must post a disclosure statement on their website or file a disclosure statement as provided for by statute. The disclosure statement states where the public body will post individual meeting notices. A.R.S. § 38-431.02(A)(1) through (4).

The open meeting law requires at least 24 hours notice of meetings to the members of the public body and the general public. A.R.S. § 38-431.02(C).

Notice must be posted on the public body’s website, unless otherwise permitted by statute. Notice must also be posted at any other electronic or physical locations identified in the disclosure statement and by giving additional notice as is reasonable and practicable. A.R.S. § 38-431.02(A)(1) through (4).

  1. Agenda

Agendas must contain information reasonably necessary to inform the public of the matters to be discussed or decided. A.R.S. § 38-431.09.

Agendas must be available at least 24 hours before the meeting. A.R.S. § 38- 431.02(G).

  1. Public’s Rights

The public has a right to: Public has no right to: • Attend Speak • Listen Disrupt • Tape record
• Videotape (more)

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

  1. Calls to the Public

An open call to the public is an agenda item that allows the public to address the public body on topics of concern within the public body’s jurisdiction, even though the topic is not specifically included on the agenda. Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I99-006.

Although the Open Meeting Law permits the public to attend public meetings, it does not require public participation in the public body’s discussions and deliberations and does not require a public body to include an open call to the public on the agenda. See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. No. I78-001.

An individual public officer may respond to criticism, ask staff to review an item or ask that an item be placed on a future agenda, but he or she may not dialogue with the presenter or collectively discuss, consider, or decide an item that is not listed on the agenda. A.R.S. § 38-431.01(H); Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I99-006. Note that individual members of the public body may respond to criticism by individuals who addressed the public body during the call to the public, but the public body may not collectively discuss or take action on the complaint unless the matter is specifically listed on the agenda. A.R.S. § 38-431.01(H).

Public bodies may impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on speakers.
Restrictions must be narrowly tailored to affect a compelling state interest and may not be content based. Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I99-006.

A member of the public body may not knowingly direct a staff member to communicate in violation of the Open Meeting Law. A.R.S. 38-431.01(I).

In sum: • Calls to the public are permitted, but not required. • Should be added as an agenda item. • Public body may limit speaker’s time. • Public body may require speakers on the same side with no new comments to select spokesperson • Public body may set ground rules: o civility o language o treat everyone the same


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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Last post, I promise:

  1. Executive Sessions

Public bodies may hold private executive sessions under a few limited circumstances. In executive sessions, the public is not allowed to attend or listen to the discussions, and the public body is not permitted to take final action. A.R.S. § 38-431.03(D).

Members of the public body may not vote or take a poll in executive sessions. A.R.S. § 38-431.03(D).
4

There are seven authorized topics for executive sessions: 1. Personnel (must provide 24 hours written notice to employee).
2. Discussion or consideration of records exempt by law from public inspection. 3. Legal advice – with public body’s own lawyer(s). 4. Discussion or consultation with public body’s lawyer(s) to consider pending or contemplated litigation, settlement discussions, negotiated contracts. 5. Discuss and instruct its representative regarding labor negotiations. 6. Discuss international, interstate, and tribal negotiations. 7. Discuss the purchase, sale, or lease of real property.

Notice and Agenda: Agendas for executive sessions may describe the matters to be discussed more generally than agendas for public meetings in order to preserve confidentiality or to prevent compromising the attorney-client privilege. A.R.S. § 38- 431.02(I). Nonetheless, the agenda must provide more than a recital of the statute that authorizes the executive session.


Okay, there you go. Now you the info you need.

How do you feel about it?

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

The open meeting law is broken all the time in our little town. I reported it 3 times over 4 years ago. How can there be so many consent approval of items on the agenda if they haven't been discussed somewhere by council members? I have seen where over $300,000 has been approved on consent agenda and the public has no clue what is going on. How about ASU and other things that is never talked about in detail in council meetings?

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

Is PSWID a corporation ? Don't they have to go thru the corporation commisssion for approval for increases in water rates?

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Dan Haapala 3 years, 7 months ago

No Pat. PSWID is the closest thing to a government entity in Pine and Strawberry. They are a political district and the CC has no authority over them.

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Dan Haapala 3 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Tom for the research. There were hundreds of other pages you could have posted but that is as complete a synopsis of the Open Meeting Law as I have ever seen presented. As Chairman of the East Verde Park Fire District Board, I will send out an email referencing this post. I will not suggest any action regarding this post, I will not encourage any further communication regarding this post nor will I suggest further discussion or action regarding this post. I will further instruct boardmembers not to reply to this post.

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

Who controls the PSWID besides the board members. Seems they would have to account to someone besides the water users. How about the well and water testing? There has to be some govt. agency they report to. Health dept maybe? Didn't they buy from Brookes Utilities which is a corporation? Where did the money come from?

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

Thx, Tom, for posting the info on the Open Meeting Law. And, Dan, thx for including " I will not suggest, etc." That is something that is supposed to be included on all communications sent out by governmental boards to remind all of the Open Meeting Law.

Pat, when the Pine Water Co. and Strawberrry Water Co. were owned by Hardcastle (or Brooke Utilities) the people and Pine and Strawberry could turn to the Arizona Corporation Commission for help because Pine Water Co. and Strawberry Water Co. were corporations doing business in Arizona. The ACC regulates corporations doing business in Arizona. Hardcastle had to get ACC approval for any rate increase before he imposed it just as APS and the telephone company , etc.have to obtain ACC approval for any rate increase. PSWID, as a governmental body, can impose any increase they want provided they hold a public hearing, discuss the rate increase and vote on it in a public meeting. PSWID held such a meeting last summer wherein they approved rate increases "Effective January 1, 2011." Many people are upset because the rate increase "Effective January 1, 2011" was applied to December statements.

PSWID does have to meet water quality standards. Right now my senior mind cannot come up with the name of the state agency that regulates water quality. I believe PSWID has to submit the water to a test at least once a year. As far as I know PSWID has a good or excellent water quality rating.

The money for the purchase came in the form of a loan from Compass Bank. If my memory (remember senioritis - so check $$ accuracy) serves me correctly, the water companies were purchased for about $3.5 million. Since then I think PSWID has added about another $2 million to the "loan" amount. In other words the citizens of Pine/Strawberry owe about $5 million to $5.5 million to Compass Bank.

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

"Is PSWID a corporation ?"

No. PSWID is part of Gila County. The only approval process is by vote of the people in putting people in place who represent their desires.

"Who controls the PSWID besides the board members?"

As I said, Pat, just the electorate. PSWID was originally begun as a county entity to do a search for additional water for Pine. That's why it's called a "water improvement" district. If there is a problem with a governmment entity there is always the Ombudsman Office, which has its site at this link:

http://www.azleg.gov/ombudsman/

Here's what they have to say about their role:

"Our role is to help people who are having a problem with an agency of Arizona state government or a public access dispute with a state or local governmental agency.

We help by first listening to the person's complaint. We then discuss their rights, options and explain the programs/procedures that may already be in place to resolve the problem. In some cases that may be all the help the person needs.

In other cases we work with the agency on a citizen's behalf to find a remedy that is fair and appropriate.

We also have the authority to conduct a formal investigation if the seriousness of the case warrants."

I think a lot of people overlook the fact that right in the Arizona legal office we have someone we can apply to for help when we need it. Click on the link and look around. Good place to know about.

Thanks, Dan. Since it came from the AZ Ombudsman Office I thought it would be the most clear-cut statement of the law. They have easy to understand explanations of a lot of things.

I see that you comply with the open-meeting law with great precision. Congratulations!

The one thing you didn't point out, Bernice, was the fact that Brooke, although they kinda sorta dragged their feet just a wee bit, was thrilled to get rid of the two water companies. They came as part of a deal where they bought a whole bunch of water companies and were not exactly happy to have to buy two companies that were not money makers.

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

I am sure that Harcastle smiled all the way to the bank, I am equally sure that the ACC was happy to be rid of the Pine/Strawberry water mess.

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

Back In November during the transition to CH2m Hill management, I sent the new PSWID District Manager links to ARS State requirements for maintenance of public records and handling of public requests for copies of same. A handout is now given when anyone makes a request for public records. PSWID purchased SH3 well (a Strawberry Hollow well) original appraisal was for $210,000 from a company that terminated their contract with PSWID. Another appraisal was later submitted by CH2m Hill for $450,000.and PSWID paid $450,000. A board member claimed that the original appraisal did not cover certain things when in fact it did. I do not question the selection of the SH3 well due to its close proximity for hook up into the PSWID system. The well is purchased, hooked up, running and monies paid. The last appraisal should be made public so that we can see that we have fair value. To deny a copy of the appraisal and still claim privileged and confidential status makes no sense to me. We are after all footing the bill.

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Pam,

You're right.

I just do not understand why the board insists on doing things which alienate the very people who are trying to support them and cheer them on them. If there's a need for secrecy during negotiations, fine. Everybody understands that. But when the negotiations are over, and the deal is done, the need evaporates. Then the public information laws come into effect. But we shouldn't need laws to convince the board to be open with us. We're not the enemy. We're the folks who elected them. The board knows that, and it knows that it has to release the information. So do it.

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Melissa Durbin 3 years, 7 months ago

All Public water systems have a system ID and report Water Quality to Arizona Department Environmental Quality. Pine/Strawberry (Comunity Water System) does the same/simlar sampling and reporting as Town of Payson. They are under the Safe Water Drinking Act. FYI

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

For an update on the Milk Ranch Well you can read more about it and the signed contract by going to the following link:- http://www.waterforpinestrawberry.com ( summary 1/20/2011)

Likewise you can read the PSWID draft board minutes for 1/20/2011 at www.pswid.org

Stay warm everyone!

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, Melissa. I figured there had to be something of that nature.

Thanks, Pam, but the two links you put up are not specific enough. They send you to a general area. What people would like to see is a link directly to the data on the well. Have you got one?

Got cold last night, didn't it? Eight above where I am. And cold as the devil today. I went to Payson to pick up a prescription for Lolly, and everywhere I went my engine was cold when I got back to the car. Windy. Wind just sucked the heat out of everything. Boy, did I enjoy the quiet drive home*** in a nice warm car.

I feel sorry for people who have to get out in this stuff at six in the morning to earn a living. And I was happy to see that ADOT didn't have those poor guys out there strip sealing 87 between Pine and Payson. It can wait a few days.

NOAA says we'll be home free if we get through tonight. "Blustery," and very cold (approaching 5 above). Tomorrow 35. Friday 50. Saturday 58. Sunday same. Monday and Tuesday, continuing to warm.

***Quiet because the Valley folks no doubt listened to the forecast and said, "Not only no, but...."

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, My daughter and I spent the night in Mesa last night and believe me when we stepped out of the house it was COLD. I don't remember it getting that cold the 40 some yrs. I lived there. Maybe age makes a difference. (: I had an early morning appt. with the cardioligist. Had my pace maker checked and got a clean bill of health. Hope he is right.

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, I will try and do better :-)
Looks like I may have to cut and post. I'll get back when I have figured it out.

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

It was cold and windy in the valley all day. Saw on the news that Chicago got 22 inches of snow. I know from experience that that much snow causes mucho problems. One of the things is that (at least when we lived there) Chicago didn't plow side streets. They couldn't because in some areas there were too many cars parked in the street - no garages. It was fun, you would start your car and force your vehicle out of its parking space and into the snow ruts in the middle of the road. Of course when we were there I don't think we ever had 22 inches of snow at one time.

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

I have looked at the "purchase agreement" and once again a PSWID action leads to questions rather than answers. First, the agreement states, "P.S.W.I.D. and Seller will enter into a more detailed agreement in which:". Therefore, I conclude that this document that Gary Lovetro signed is not the final purchase agreement. Perhaps, it should be described as "an agreement to purchase"? Then in the original proposal way back last summer there was discussion of an easement. There is no mention of an easement in the document that Gary Lovetro signed. Has PSWID given up on getting an easement? How is PSWID going to access the well site? Then the original way back last summer proposal mentioned that the land was in flood plain (or flood zone) and there is no mention of flood plain or flood zone in this document. So what happened to this flood zone (plain)? What is going on? My gut reaction is that PSWID and its attorney should be able to do better.

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

Who gave who authority to sign a purchase agreement? Mybe you need a new attorney or kick all the attornies out of it. If PSWID is a political district seems all the papers would be a matter of public record. Arizona did have a law you could not sell a piece of land locked property. you had to give an easement. Where is the county or state in all of this?

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, I am afraid the only link that the Roundup system accepts is the one that takes you to the home pages of the sites I referenced. I can give easy directions to read the actual data, comments and minutes if this is permissible?

Pat, the county is hiding under the covers.

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Okay, that did not work, just as Pam said.

But we're not dead yet. I'm going to try putting the the whole link is quotes.

"http://www.waterforpinestrawberry.com/data%20pages/01202010PSWIDSummaryemailPart1.v2.pdf."

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Nope, got a cut and paste problem.

Okay, we'll try this:

"http://www.waterforpinestrawberry.com/data%20pages" "/01202010PSWIDSummaryemailPart1.v2.pdf."

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Okay, tell you what. The problem is that if the URL passes through this site it gets changed in a very light way which prevents it from working.

So tell you what. I'll post just the beginning of the e-mail. Then if you want the res, the meat of the thing, just click on my name, or on Pam's, on this string. The Roundup will open a box where you can e-mail one of us. Whichever one of us you choose will e-mail you with the whole URL.

That'll work!

And thanks for the help, Pam!

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

Another meeting coming up for this Thursday 2/10/11 7:00 pm at PSWID office. This time it is the Supplemental Water Committee. Link to pswid.org for agenda, posted under Committee Meeting Information. This PSWID board decided to relinquish it's rights to ownership, for free, of the Solitude Trails system ( this was to be once the last lot was sold per original agreement between Brookes and Sol. Trails) Since then Solitude Trails has approached this board several times to buy it back for $500,000!

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

So if they want to buy it back, let them. Why would we want to give it back? Business is business. I can hardly wait to read that one.

You know what's disturbing me at the moment? I keep reading letters to the editor from weekend folks complaining about the basic water fee, which is something we have had as long as the water companies existed. It's nothing new; it has just has been raised. That should not come as a surprise. It had to be raised. The basic COSTS of the system are much more now than they used to be.

When we were under Brooke Utilities the basic rate--the rate paid even if you don't draw a drop of water--was low because the company belonged to Brooke. But we had to take out a VERY large loan to buy the water companies, and now we have to pay the money back.

It's really simple. Everyone got to vote. The vote was FOR buying the water companies. We bought them. Now we have to pay for them.

So the basic rate has been increased because the basic COSTS increased. The letter writers seem to have the odd idea that there is something wrong with that, but it's hard to see what it could be. The increase in the basic water rate was needed to pay for the water companies we bought, the repairs we had to do to, and the cost of buying additional wells to ensure a safe water supply.

Think of it this way: If the basic rate was not increased, then someone who voted FOR the purchase of the water companies, but who uses virtually no water, would be able to walk away without paying a penny for the water companies, the repairs we had to make to the system, the wells we had to contract for or buy, and the cost of running everything. He would only have to pay for the water he uses, virtually paying nothing. He'd become part owner of two water companies without paying a red cent for them. And the rest of the people would have to pay for the costs that HE obligated us ALL for by voting to buy the water companies. How could that conceivably be fair?

Is there anyone out there, even if you don't live in Pine or Strawberry, who can explain how that could possibly be fair?

I might add, by the way, that my water bill is now about double what it was before we bought the water companies, and I voted AGAINST buying them. So if anyone has a right to complain it ought to be me.

But do you see me complaining? No.

Why?

It's called democracy. You get to vote. If you win you expect the people who lost to support the program because it was decided in a fair and open manner. If you lose....

(A little more, just to make things clear)

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm not crazy about having to pay double my old bill to own a water company I didn't want, but you don't hear me complaining. Nor will you.

I'll explain it just once more for anyone who missed the fairness and logic of it:

The water I now use has no more value to me than the water I used before we bought the water companies. It's the same water, and I use the same amount. It's neither better nor worse because I now am part-owner of two water companies. Nevertheless, I am willing to join with my neighbors in an effort to raise funds, through an equally-assessed basic water rate, one that every rate payer in the system pays, to pay back the loans needed to buy the water companies and take other necessary steps. When all is said and done, and the water companies are paid for, each rate payer on the system will own an equal share in the water companies purchased by the increase in the basic rate; he will not own a share based upon how much water he used. Therefore, we all need to pay the same basic rate to pay the basic costs. When the day arrives that our debt is paid off, then--and only then--it will be time to discuss changes in the charges we all pay.

I don't know how I could make it any more clear than that.

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

I am sorry, put it down to me being a newbie. What I should have clarified is that PSWID gave up their / our claim to the Solitude Trails water system. The system was supposed to revert to PSWID once the last lot in Solitude Trails was sold. It was to have cost us nothing per agreement between Brookes and Solitude Trails. This PSWID board gave up that right for free i.e. we won't inherit the water system when last Sol. Trails lot is sold. At the very next board meeting Solitude Trails was back on PSWID agenda, this time Solitude Trails made another presentation to the same PSWID board asking the board / us to buy the system back from them for $500,000.....yes the same system PSWID gave away just four weeks before.

We have had a water agreement with Solitude Trails dating back to Brookes and probably before. The agreement was recently updated in favor of Solitude Trails.

Still the issue about purchasing the system has not gone away and is again being looked at by the Supplemental Water Committee and the PSWID board.

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

I own a home in Pine and solved the problem of paying any water bill. I don't live there so had the water shut off. I probably would never have enough money to have it turned back on. So when my son inherits it, his problem. (:

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Bernice Winandy 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, a lot of the part timers are complaining because they feel that the new base rate - $36 including 3,000 gallons of water favors the full timers and water wasters. Many part timers NEVER use any where near that amount of water in a month. For example, I have part time neighbors who were never up at all last year. In years past when they did come up, they were usually only up for one or two days at the most. At the same time, please note that there are full timers, who after years of water shortages, have learned to get by on less than 3,000 gallons of water a month.

Now, let me be clear, my complaint is not about the new water rates. I agree we had our chance to voice our complaints at the July 3, 2010 hearing. My complaint is about the application of the new rates. The motion that was voted upon at the July 3, 2010 meeting was ".. effective January 1, 2011." It did not specify "effective due date January 1, 2011" as was on the December statements which applied the new water rates to water used in December, 2010.

I believe that if PSWID wanted to apply the new rates to December, 2010 statements they should have discussed the matter and voted upon the matter in a public meeting. To just arbitrarily apply the increase a month early just shows a lack of respect for the PSWID water users. Believe me, if they had just voted upon, in an open meeting that allowed audience participation, the "out of ordinary" interpretation of "efffective date" I would not be upset now. No one likes to feel tricked. Right now I feel very tricked by the PSWID Board -- people who are supposed to be looking out for my best interests??????????????/

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Bernice, I fully understand your complaint. The only reason I'm not complaining too is that the board finally said that it had to put the charges into effect earlier to pay the bills. If that's true then I guess it had to happen. I'd have liked seeing things happen in a more open manner, but if the bottom line is that they just had to have the money then I'm okay with them getting it. I'd just like to see the board be as open as possible. You know? Just keep us in the loop.

As to water usage, most people in Pine get along just fine on 3,000 gallons. I suppose that's why the district set that as the amount of water included in the basic rate. Simplifies billing and meter reading and saves money. Saying that it encourages waste is just so much empty rhetoric. What are people going to do? Turn on a tap out of spite? Nonsense. People will use the water they need and that's that.

As for complaints about raising the basic rate they are simply out of line. We all are going to own the water companies and so we all need to pay for them. The idea of raising the rate per gallon of water to pay for the water companies and leaving the basic rate where it used to be is so out of line I cannot understand how anyone could even suggest it. It would mean that the full time residents paid the costs of the purchases, well drilling, repairs, meter reading, pumping, and operation while anyone who only came up once in a while went on paying the same old amount as always, getting all the advantages of owning the water companies while someone else paid for them. That is so patently unfair and unrealistic I can't believe anyone would seriously suggest it.

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Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

You won't be able to use water out of Solitude Trails well, will you?

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Ruby Finney 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom,

Re-read your comments posted at 3:14 above and then go back and read your comments on the impact fee thread.

Sounds like you are absolutely in favor of impact fees if they pertain to Pine !

Explain ?

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frederick franz 3 years, 7 months ago

"Is there anyone out there, even if you don't live in Pine or Strawberry, who can explain how that could possibly be fair?"

Tom queried about the fairness of water user fees in PSWID. As a resident of Payson, not a water user in PSWID, I hope that I view the subject objectively. My opinion is that the water users voted to buy the water system, and therefore are all equally bound to pay for it via water rate increases.

If I were a resident of PSWID, I would seek to actively participate in local politics. I would try to be aware of all the local issues so I could vote my choice in elections. Then perhaps, I could vote to avoid a large indebtedness such as the PSWID has taken on.

Democracy doesn't always work the way we presume, but it's the best thing we have.

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Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Fred,

That's about as sensible a statement on the subject as I've read so far. We bought the water companies, spent a lot of money repairing the infrastructure, and are now buying new wells and tying into others. So we have to pay for it, sharing the cost as equitably as possible. Eventually we will own our own water companies. Right now we have to pay off the loans.

Ruby,

Somehow or other you've read something into what I said that isn't there. I suppose you are referring to the first paragraph of my comment, but It has nothing to do with impact fees. It is talking about the fact that when PSWID raised the water rates "as of 1 January" people were expecting to pay the new rates on the bill they received for January. But when they got their December bill the charge was at the new rate. Because it was unexpected people were naturally upset about it. I was too, but when the board president said they moved the rate forward because they just plain needed the money to meet the budget I accepted that as a reasonable explanation. Some people are still upset about it, and I can see why. I'm not telling them not to be upset; I'm just saying that I'm not. Has nothing to do with impact fees though. Has only to do with when the new rates came into effect. If you read Bernice's complaint carefully you'll see that's all she is complaining about.

The rest of the comment has nothing to do with impact fees either. The basic rate that we pay covers the basic costs, such as paying back the loans taken out to buy the water companies, cost of electricity, repairs made to make the system reliable, new wells, and so on. That's the way it has always been here, and it is the standard practice everywhere I have checked. I just e-mailed the water department in Payson and they use the exact same system, a basic rate which pays for the basic costs plus the first few thousand gallons of water. High usage of water comes at a higher rate. The systems seems as fair and equitable as you can get.

But impact fees?

Whole different subject.

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Pam Mason 3 years, 7 months ago

Fair and equitable is certainly the desired goal. I knew the water rates were going up but like others felt the "effective" date could certainly have been handled better. As a full timer I will now allow myself to grow a few vegetables and fruit in pots and still be under the 3,000 gallons allocated.

It would seem that not all is fair and equitable in the water meter world. Right now a new residential water meter 5/8" x 3/4" costs $3,200 this includes $2,000 impact fee. Likewise a commercial meter costs more and includes an impact fee of $3,500 per meter. When the Milk Ranch Well was discussed and agreement signed in public on 1/20/11 to purchase same, a portion of the agreement was overlooked.

The owner of the Milk Ranch Well is to receive 50 residential meters and two commercial meters at no charge with the drop dead date being 15 years. These free meters can be installed anywhere within the boundaries of Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District. At today's cost this amounts to at least $171,000. Add to that $162,000 plus (not recovered) that was spent on fixing the well, $400,000 for the well with no appraisal, the cost of hook up and we are looking at just over $1 million.

The free meters represent a loss of at least $171,000 to the PSWID coffers, money that should go towards paying back loans, maintenance etc. Anyone else who wants a meter will have to pay the listed price at the time including impact fees.

I too would like to see things happen in a more open manner per my previous posts. You are absolutely correct Fred about becoming involved in local politics, it does no good to sit back and complain, one has to try and pay attention if at all possible.

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