Sweetwater Authority’s $49,083,000 Water Rate Increase! (The Impact on the Poor)

By Herman Baca / President, Committee on Chicano Rights

There are many things that individuals in the community can do without; water is not one of them. Poor people, especially in National City (NC), the poorest in SD County, median income of $39,000, and others on fixed income in the South Bay could find themselves if the increase is approved choosing to pay their water bill, over lives’ other necessities…food, rent, clothing, etc..

The Sweetwater Authority serves 187,000 customers in Bonita, parts of Chula Vista and NC. A public hearing to “consider adopting increases to its water service fees” will be held on August 27, 2012. In the last seven years the Sweetwater Authority has approved rate increases 6 times, but failed to raise rates in 2011, because of outraged Bonita residents. The CCR has gone on record in opposing the proposed water rate increase.

Most San Diego County residents, voters and water customers have little, if any idea that 16 water agencies even exist, what they do, or that they have become private fiefdoms, private ATMs and cash cows for self-serving individuals and politicians.

Case in point:

 1.      Sweetwater Authority Board Chairman, Ron Morrison’s, (NC Mayor and representative) water bill according to statements attributed to him is $24.92! This on a residential street where the average water bill is probably $140? The U-T on August 25, 2011 stated, “Morrison argued that larger properties don’t necessarily equate to higher bills. He said he lives on a large property with a hot tub and koi pond and has a water bill of $24.92.”

 2.      Sweetwater Authority board members in 2010 paid themselves “stipends” to attend festivals, open houses, community meetings, water conferences, chamber of commerce etc., that totaled $113,700 for the following board members: Ron Morrison (NC), $15,870, Ted Muehleisen (NC no longer on the board, now Jess Van Deventer) $26,205, Bud Pocklington ($18,760), Maria Rubalcaba $19,534, Jose Preciado $12,390, Terry Thomas $18,582, Margaret Welsh, $11,469.

 3.      The General Manager of the Yuima Municipal Water District with 350 meters, and 8 employees makes $299,000 a year! Sweetwater Authority General Manager James L. Smyth base annual salary is $203,490. Sixteen San Diego County Water General managers receive $190,500 average base salary to manage 47.6 million average budgets. School Superintendents on the other hand receive an average of $189,800 to manage $152.3 million average budgets.

 4.      The Otay Water Board unbelievably voted to approve, after a standing room only crowd opposed… Lifetime Retiree Health Care for its employees and managers.

5.      The 2010 San Diego County Grand Jury, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, then California Attorney General, Jerry Brown and the Sweetwater Board all failed in 2010 to investigate public allegations levied by then retiring (2010) Sweetwater Authority General Manager, Mark Rogers that, I don’t suffer bullies, liars, or cowards very well. They are present in your employee ranks, in elected positions, and in your community. They should be recognized as thieves and glory seekers who selfishly manipulate others into steering the good ship Sweetwater toward the rocks for their own hateful motives or personal gain. How you choose to deal with them is your choice — you can elect to be like Neville Chamberlain and surrender to their demands, or you can choose to be like Winston Churchill who recognized a growing threat and inspired a nation to stand strong. I have always fancied Churchill. What about you?”

 6.      In 2009 10 persons out of 186,000 water customers objected to an 18% water rate increase that was approved.

 7.      Bonita residents in 2011 forced the Sweetwater Authority Board to back off a 2.5% water rate increase.

 If you are sick and tired of the above abuses, and oppose the $49,083,000 water rate increase we urge you to attend, or submit a written protest by August 27, 2012 to:

Chairman, Ron MorrisonSweetwater Authority, 505 Garrett AvenueChula VistaCA 91910.