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[Updated June 23] The Rancho Murieta Community Services District board of directors approved a 2008-2009 budget and rate increases for water, sewer, security, drainage and garbage collection Monday night that will increase the average monthly residential bill 18.8 percent. The average bill will go from $114.44 to $135.96 when the new rates take effect next month.

Ed Crouse

General Manager Ed Crouse gave a presentation on the 2008-2009 budget at last week's meeting of the CSD board.

The board reduced an anticipated 20.5 percent "worst case" increase by deciding to reimburse $600,000 in reserves over a 10-year period instead of five. The CSD used the reserve funds to meet the requirements of a cease and desist order a regulatory agency issued in 2006.

The 189 residents of Murieta Village face a steeper hike of 30.5 percent, with the average monthly bill going from $77.11 to $100.63. The Village has historically paid a lower sewer rate than other residential users, but state law doesn't allow reduced charges "unless there is a true lower cost of service," according to a letter the CSD sent to ratepayers in April with proposed rate changes.

At Monday's meeting, Director Jerry Pasek said instituting "usage-based" pricing would have the effect of reducing water rates for the Village and the Villas. Director Bobbi Belton said Pasek was referring to conservation pricing, and added she would like to have the pricing in place by January.

The board held a series of workshops on conservation pricing this year. The goal is to conserve water by charging more for higher levels of usage.

The CSD attributes the rate increases to a lack of growth and declining property tax revenue coupled with rising costs for power, fuel, wages and employer costs.

The County of Sacramento has informed the CSD that property tax revenue will be reduced $50,000, and developers have put off building plans until 2012 or 2014.

General Manager Ed Crouse made a formal presentation of the budget at the June 18 board meeting and answered questions from several audience members about budget items for workers' compensation insurance and salaries.

The district's total annual premium for workers' compensation coverage increased from $72,000 to $122,000.

The increase was the result of a series of work-related injuries -- "small, but lingering" -- that occurred over the last couple years, Crouse said, adding that the district has weekly safety meetings for security and water staff. He said the CSD's insurance coverage is provided by Special Districts Risk Management Authority -- "it's a pool of special districts. They have been competitive and lot lower than private workers' comp."

Crouse said wage increases of 6 to 12 percent and step increases represent an effort to bring salaries for water and wastewater personnel closer to comparable districts in the area over the course of the current three-year contract as well as reduce turnover. Crouse said other districts were paying an average of 30 percent more. "We also did a salary survey for Admin and Security, and found that they were low on that order of magnitude," he said.

Budget in brief

  • The monthly security tax would increase 14 percent, going from $21 to $23.89 for residents behind the gates. No additional patrol officer position is proposed, but the use of off-duty sheriff's deputies for patrol will be increased by about 50 percent.
  • Two recommendations from an operations audit of the wastewater treatment plant are included in the budget. The audit recommends adding an employee and providing training to optimize plant operations. The training is $50,000 and an additional plant operator is about $75,000, with wages and employer costs.
  • Board members have expressed support for an aggressive approach to restoring the district's replacement reserves. The sewer rate increase would repay $600,000 to reserves for costs related to the cease and desist order issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
  • In addition, the proposed rates will restore the full contribution for water and sewer replacement reserves. The contribution was cut to 50 percent during the two years the state diverted 80 percent of the district's share of property taxes, and restored to 75 percent last year.
  • Director Dick Taylor suggested the CSD collect reimbursement next year for $42,000 the district spent for the preparation of the environmental document for the pedestrian bridge. The CSD prepared the document when it served as lead agency for the project at the request of the Rancho Murieta Association. The district postponed repayment from the parks fund until 2009 when it was thought there would be more money in the fund. Contributions to the fund are triggered by new development.
  • Director Bobbi Belton suggested reducing the number of issues of "Pipeline," the publication the district publishes for ratepayers, from four to three a year as a cost-saving measure.
  • Last month, on a split vote, the board approved reducing the number of days of service for which directors receive a $100 stipend from a maximum of five a month to three as to cut costs. Wayne Kuntz and Dick Taylor voted against the measure.
  • The Water Department reduced the cost of quarterly groundwater monitoring required by a regulatory agency by taking samples from the monitoring wells and transporting them to the lab for analysis. A consultant prepares the quarterly reports.
  • The board approved a contract amendment at last week's meeting that increases garbage collection costs by 3.5 percent.

Previous coverage of the 2008-2009 CSD budget is available here:


T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Outrageous CSD Tax Increase

Outrageous. GM Crouse gains 18.8% average CSD assessments increase. And with wage increases 6-12%. Also says workmens compensation premium is increased by whoppimg 69.9%. All this while in present economy we're all having to cut back due to decreased income. Meanwhile CSD mismanagement is at the forefront. What's his salary and capabilities in comparison? CSD Board needs to take the bull by the horns and regain control of this disaster. 

Tom Rhoades's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 27
Post rating: 0

Outrageous CSD Tax Increase

AGREED

Mismanagement continues to flourish in this community...

Tom Rhoades

 

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

CSD must control the economy!

Yeah, CSD should stop the price of fuel from rising, must lower the prevailing wage statewide for water treatment plant operators, must make the state lower workers' comp premiums, must go back in time in their time machine and make the PTF build an infrastructure that isn't dependent on storing treated wastewater in lakes that spill into the river. Should magically provide an increased police presence of sworn peace officers with arrest powers without it costing us anything.

It's easy to sit back in an easy chair and imagine "waste, fraud and abuse." Much harder to actually find some.

We've stopped growing and the bills are coming due. Growth used to produce a steady inflation in income (new taxpayers) which offset the growth in costs, deferring tax increases which would otherwise be needed to keep pace with inflation of costs. The residents resisted growth. When told we needed growth to sustain our infrastructure many of us, me included, said back when that we were prepared to pay higher rates to maintain our smaller size and not overbuild our environment. Well, we're there.

Joan Chappell's picture
Joined: 01/07/2008
Posts: 11
Post rating: 8

CSD Rate increase

Joan Chappell

As a senior living on a fixed income this is an extremely high rate increase. Last month, I, and a lot of other customers received two bills for the same month.  I called and they told me it was a mistake.  Just pay one of the bills.  How much did this little mistake cost? Printing, envelopes and postage.  Also all of the other mistakes I keep reading about cost a lot of money both in fines, labor etc.  We are paying for all these "little mistakes"

 

Joan Chappell

Chuck Lentz's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 116
Post rating: 38

Pmt increase??

Agree with you Terry!  Many of those in  the Public Sector live out in La, La land... Ashamed they never learned to live on what they earned instead of what they could steal. It used to be a great place, but now?????????

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Cut where?

which expenses in the budget would you cut, Chuck? The detailed budget proposal and explanations of what is driving costs in each budget section is online in the board packet at http://ranchomurietacsd.com/documents/brdmtg062308.pdf. To my eye it appears these larger areas of increase are externally imposed costs over which they have little to no control.

Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

we didn't complain...

We as residents didn't complain when we weren't paying wages high enough over at CSD to keep qualified personnel.

We as residents didn't complain in 1998 when we cut security wages by 20%.

We as residents didn't complain when the rates weren't raised all these years and business wasn't properly handled over at CSD because of that.

You're right, CSD has been woefully mismanaged. I sure am glad that this board is trying to get it on the right track.

Brad Walker's picture
Joined: 11/26/2007
Posts: 14
Post rating: 29

Point of Clarification please

 

Lisa, operating under the assumption that the job of a Board of Directors is to "govern" and the job of the staff is to "manage," are you saying CSD has been misgoverned or mismanaged?

Brad Walker

Brad Walker

Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

great question

Brad, that just might be the million dollar question. Without being privileged to more of the inner workings over the past many years, I honestly don't have an answer.

Just taking a stab at it, probably shared responsibility? However, if it has been mismanaged, by your definition, doesn't that also imply misgoverned due to lack of proper oversight? If it has been misgoverned, how much does the management play into that. I don't think your question is as simple as it appears.

And what fault do we apply to us residents that maybe haven't been paying attention, unless suddenly the bills are being increased rather than decreased?

Chuck Lentz's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 116
Post rating: 38

CSD

Wilber:  You are rigfht! I have not reviewed the proposed budget and shoud have before I spoke.  No question, it is probably necessary but should have come before the employee raise proposal etc.  If that happened?  You and all Public Sector people must underatand, we are hurting, are you???  Not what I read in the paper.  With only 36 employees, we shouldn't have a problem but at 18.8%, we must have.  Oh, $4.58 for gas, Bread at $4.69 a loaf, and all the rest.  What a hell of a time to explode another $30,00  on the bill???  Have I run for a board position, NO!.  23 years Military and 5.5 Combat, I hope I'm smarter than that and I would hope it gives me the right to question what the Hell is going on!!! 

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