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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 24 - 27

None of this was done before new increases were imposed from 2014 through 2019. It was then stated that water rates “can be adjusted annually after January 2020 in accordance with state law using the San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index.” This would keep the rates in line with operating costs. By state law, increases in water costs from the Sonoma County Water Agency could also be passed through to customers. The annual rate increases of 7.5 percent now proposed for fiscal years 2020-2023 vastly exceed both historic CPI increases and even the 6 percent annual cost increases expected from the water agency.

I have repeatedly questioned the excessive and continuing increase in water costs sanctioned by the Board of Supervisors year after year and suggested that a closer examination of the water agency’s budgets and expenditures were required. In 2013, I expressed my concern to Supervisor Gorin about the potential lack of cost control at the water agency by the reported prolific use of agency credit cards by employees, spending almost $1 million per year to “allow quick access to supplies for capital projects and services.” There has been no response.

And then, there is the City of Sonoma’s questionable transfers of funds from the Water Fund for other purposes while past maintenance and improvement in the local distribution system were deferred. One also questions the need to “install new advanced meters” when “smart” meters were already installed some years ago.

There are too many unanswered questions as well as unfounded assumptions as the basis for these proposed new rate increases. To enact a program of increases without resolving these matters is unconscionable while the projected increases in the fixed service charge and volumetric charge are outrageous.

The Council has had little time to thoroughly study the voluminous 2018 Water Study Report received less than two months ago. Thus, the rush to adopt new rates seems imprudent.

G. F. Simmel

Sonoma