Tuesday, December 12, 2006

YOUR WATER BILL PART TWO

Guest commentary by Herb Patterson

YOUR WATER BILL PART TWO

In the last installment of the discussion of the San Diego Water Districts [SDWD] move into the City of Encinitas new Mossy yard, I criticized the methodology and the lack of alternatives presented by the consultants report. I thought the exorbitant price paid by the SDWD and their lack of ownership of the new property seemed like an attempt by the City to pass expenses of a major land purchase on to an entity that could raise their fees without a vote of the people – a violation of Prop. 218.

It actually is worse than that. The Mossy property is 4.4 acres according to the consultant's report. An acre is 43,560 square feet, so the Mossy property is about 191,664 square feet. That makes the cost to the City [figuring in the $100,000 purchased improvements in the figure] at $50 and a tiny fraction per square foot! Can the City “charge” the SDWD FIVE OR SIX TIMES it's cost per square foot to use the Mossy property? It will take a very talented lawyer to explain to me how this does not grossly violate Prop 218.

Another way of looking at the deal is to take the consultants figures of 23 employees [rounded] of the SDWD and multiple times the number of consultant-figured necessary square footage per employee[364 square feet] times $50 a square foot [the City's cost]. This total is about $418,600 – add an additional $100,000 for necessary improvements directly attributed to SDWD and you get a figure of $518,600 as an appropriate “donation” for the SDWD. Of course, the SDWD still has no ownership.
The consultant recommended SDWD “contribution” to the Mossy purchase is $3,378,700. Lets say the cost of improvements to the Mossy property necessary for the SDWD exceed the $100,000 figured previously and the actual cost are multiples of that. Let's say the improvement costs exceed the City's actual costs of the land [$418,000] and the total plus improvements comes to $1,000,000. This is still a far cry from $3,378,700 and the SDWD still has no ownership.

The City has once again spent tax payer dollars for a consultant to “find” exactly what the City wanted, giving them a screen of respectability to hide behind. Why use hypothetical costs when real costs were available? Why not comment on the previous locations of the SDWD? What difference does it make to this transaction what the City paid for the old SDWD site? Why not comment on what SDWD said it needed?

Questions that come to mind:

Has the City council a fiduciary duty to both the citizens of Encinitas and the ratepayers of the SDWD?

If they do, how can the City make a profit on the use of the Mossy yard by the SDWD?

Does not any transaction between the two entities have to be at “arms length” and as fair as possible ?

Who will sue the City for grossly violating Prop. 218?

Are there criminal penalties for attempting to defraud the ratepayers of SDWD?

My bet is we are going to find out.

Read Part One: Leucadia!: >>>a number of assumptions I find disturbing<<<

See also:

Leucadia!: No one would ever sell their personal property the way the city did

Leucadia!: More Dirty Tricks, a must read

Leucadia!: Water rates increase

Understanding Prop 218

22 comments:

  1. Good questions. Who will give us the honest answers?

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  2. Very clearly tells me once again that we need to separate these two entities.

    Not best for the council, but certainly best for the ratepayers and citizens.

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  3. decrease our cost of livingDecember 13, 2006 8:58 AM

    Sepearte the board and the council and then leave staff in place. There will be no increase in bureaucracy.

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  4. Thanks again, Herb, for your great post, and your concern. Many of us cannot understand how Council and the City Attorney, Glenn Sabine, think they can "get away with this." To us, it seems like flagrant disrespect for our Calif. Constitution, and also for the ratepayers of San Dieguito Water District, which ratepayers do not include all citizens of Encinitas, including all past and present members of Council!

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  5. There is a conflict of interest. I hope someone can get together with a group like Jarvis Taxpayer's Association, or Calaware, or someone, to fight the City on this. The problem is that the City has unlimited funds, our pocketbooks, our wallets, in the form of increased fees, taxes, and bonds we do not get to vote upon.

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  6. Yes, the consultants just twist and twist, massage the numbers, until they come up with the largest number possible in terms of what SDWD must pay for "rights of use." This is bogus, bogus, bogus.

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  7. Even Dan questioned whyDecember 13, 2006 10:38 AM

    Even Dan Dalager questioned why nothing was mentioned about compensating SDWD for its lost of rent revenue from the City. This lost rental revenue would HAVE TO BE CONSIDERED in an eminent domain case.

    The so-called JPA (Joint Powers Authority) just "makes it so," allowing the City to sneak around the requirements of eminent domain. The City, through Council, who sits as Board of Directors on SDWD, was able to purchase the SDWD property without any bids, no accessment, and then SCREW us ratepayers, big time.

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  8. Thank God for people like Herb, Donna, Kevin, JP, Jerry, Dr. Lorri, and all the others who care enought to post, to get involved.

    We can, are, making a difference, little by little.

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  9. I liked Herb Patterson's post, and his former contributions, too. Right on!

    However, as I remember, the consultant assessor said the property alone was worth $8.5 million, and the existing improvements were worth $1,000,000, thus the $9.5 million purchase price.

    Plus the City has said they are spending another half million, $500,000 for making more improvements on the Mossy Public Works Yard site. This brings the cost to be divided per sq. ft. to $10 million!

    So what does that equal per sq. ft., Herb? Just wondering.

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  10. I think that Dan Dalager, and all of Council should think about this:

    What if the City said, hey Dan, you are on Council, so we are going to buy your Lawnmower Service shop for $550,000? It's old, anyway, and not worth much beyond the land value. The City needs more parking for downtown Encinitas, so we are going to buy out your shop. We don't need to do eminent domain, and we don't need to count the revenue you make at your place of business, because you are a member of City Council, and your place should be considered a tear down, anyway. Could have some asbestos!

    The only way you, Dan, can remain in business is to purchase rights of use at the Mossy Property (good spot for a lawnmower shop, man) for $2 million dollars. We will figure this amount on the number of people in your family, plus the number of dogs you have, plus the number of people who come to your business per day. We (the City) can do this, because our consultant and our City Attorney said it was okay. Don't worry that you won't have any rights of title on the new property. You can't take it with you, anyway.

    Ha ha. How does it feel? You take our money for your benefits for your whole family, right? Pay the piper, don't be a hypocrite.

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  11. There is a city employee in the SDWD/Public Works Department named Gary Lee. He is the eminence grise who figures out how to disguise and hide all the rate and fee increases in the San Dieguito Water District in order to divert money into the general fund. If there is a lawsuit or Grand Jury investigation, it would be great to force him to testify under oath. He could say he was "just doing his job," but would have to name the persons who told him to do it.

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  12. How do we complain to the Grand Jury? Do we request they investigate? Does anyone know the procedure?

    Gil you must know. Come clean tell us how and maybe many of us can complain and get some action.

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  13. does the large increase in my sewer fees have anything to do with the water district, or is someone else giving me the scroogy

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  14. Just answering, just askingDecember 13, 2006 9:23 PM

    "scroogy," that's funny, like that.

    The shifting of monies is similar, but the sewer districts are separate from the Water Districts, which are all supposedly separate from the General Fund.

    However, the City is exempt from having to allow a vote on increasing water and sewer fees, so they find ways to raise these fees and siphon the money, covertly, into the General Fund.

    In that sense, the corruption, deception, lack of integrity by our public servants, including Council, who sits as the Board of Directors of SDWD is connected. Council is conflicted; the primary motivator is money, of course.

    I don't know who sits as the Board of Directors of the different Sewer Districts. Anybody?

    Are these sewer district positions appointed by Council, too?

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  15. The sanitation districts, Cardiff and Encinitas, were dissolved and absorbed into the city as divisions. So, the boards are also gone. This is really bad for the ratepayers because there's no monthly board meeting where you can complain about the rates. It does make it easier for the council to move money around without having to account for it at a board meeting.

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  16. The water rates for the SDWD are right about mid range for all the districts in the county.

    If you want a grand jury to investigate something, you have to have hard factual numbers and proof that those numbers are something other than what they have been presented as.

    $50./sqft sounds pretty good to me. What other Encinitas land transactions can you get for $50./sqft?

    Lawyers are like sharks, if there is the scent of blood in the water they will be leading the charge. No lawyers around? There must not be enough evidence.

    I certainly don't want to see a Grand Jury witch hunt or fishing expedition. Check with Matt Walker, he's with Pillsbury, a very major player in the legal circles of California.

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  17. Where exactly does Gil Foerster live? Does he even reside in Encinitas, let alone Leucadia?

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  18. Gil Foerster lives in California where his family has resided since 1896. I moved to Encinitas in 1974.
    I have been involved in this city since before it became one. Don't like what I have to say...TS.

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  19. Gil,

    do you think the SDWD got a good deal out of works yard sale and mossy purchase?

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  20. Mossy purchase yes
    Old location transaction or lack thereof no

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