By Julie BUTCHER
The board of directors of the Crescenta Valley Water District (CVWD) began its meeting on Tuesday at it normally does: a member of the board of the Foothill Municipal Water District explained its 7% overall budget increase this year; board members scrutinized expenditures and revenue estimates in detail and heard that the Mesa Crest Water Company has been purchased by Liberty Park Water but should see no change in the service provided.
Then, in a move that stunned the handful of customers present to protest proposed water and sewer rate increases, board president James Bodnar announced that there would be no vote on the increases at this meeting and that any rate increase contemplated would occur only after a new Prop 218 notice was debated, designed and distributed.
“Even though we sent out more than ten thousand notices, including to tenants, property owners, and parcel owners, in good faith we are listening [to], and we do care about, the community’s input.”
Instead of the two-page protest letter she had drafted to read at the meeting, Marilyn Imura Tyler expressed her surprise and appreciation.
“I appreciate your taking the concerns of the community seriously,” she said to the board.
Notwithstanding the announcement, several customers opted to speak in opposition to the increases. One questioned the rationale for different rates for residential, commercial and educational customers.
“It costs the same per unit to get water to my house as to a restaurant or to a school,” he said.
Michael Chonos had previously spoken at a public hearing on the proposed rate hikes. At Tuesday’s meeting, he handed out a two-page handwritten communique that stated, “Community is sour. 16 years in a row water increases. Rates to [sic] high.”
“We don’t want a rate increase. I think you found out over the internet that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds feel the same way,” Chonos said. “We do not want an increase. There are people on this board who have really low water bills. If you’re ‘that guy,’ you’re not really like us.”
Newest board member Sharon Raghavachary detailed the process by which she analyzes the district’s budgets and documents, noting that she and her family are typical and “have everything you have. You don’t want my bill.”
District staff responded to questions about the process of protesting the rate increases by recounting the numbers: there are approximately 8,300 households served by the CVWD; to register a successful protest, more than 50% (4001) letters of protest would be needed.
As previously reported, there are three ways to register a protest.
1) Mail to CVWD, 2700 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, CA 91214
2) Email firstname.lastname@example.org. The protest must be scanned or photographed with a handwritten signature to be accepted. Emailed text will not be accepted. Ensure scans/photos are clear and legible. Recommended file types are PDF, jpg, bmp, png or tiff.
3) Hand delivery to CVWD, 2700 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta. There is a drop box to the right-hand side of the door for protests submitted after hours.
The form to submit letters of protest can be found at www.cvwd.com.
However, until the board acts to revise its public notice, including the potential amounts of the increases, and publicly deliberates over the details of the announcement, submitting protest letters would be premature.