On March 11, more than a hundred Morro Bay residents arrived at the Citizens for Affordable Living workshop to learn more about the Water Reclamation Facility. Here are Save Morro Bay’s takeaways from their informative presentation.
KSBY cameras covered the CAL workshop (March 11, 2018 segment)
1. Though the workshop was able to answer questions and address residents’ concerns, there’s still a lot we don’t know.
Though they generally know the project’s estimated cost ($150-167 million), they don’t know how the project went from $30 million in 2013 to a cost five times as much in 2018. Without project controls or a project management team in place, there’s no analysis the city can point to that breaks down this dramatic increase.
2. Though a Prop. 218 vote was approved to raise water and sewer rates in 2015, there will be another vote scheduled this Spring.
In 2015, Morro Bay residents approved rates for a $75 million sewer. Three years later, approximately 5,000 parcels (homeowners, some tenants, businesses and hoteliers) will be on the hook for a project that’s nearly increased by $100 million — all without a budget in place to control or cap any further escalation in costs.
3. Though it requires repairs and upgrades, the current plant is operational, well-regulated with equipment already modernized.
Citizens for Affordable Living’s Barry Branin revealed the plant is in full compliance with current water quality standards. While CAL did not advocate keeping the plant at its current location as their preferred solution, Branin suggested using money approved by ratepayers in 2015 to improve its infrastructure, including components that utilize water recycling.
Check out CAL’s presentation here, which includes a printable Prop. 218 sample ballot:180311-POWERPOINT-JH-FINAL
CAL provided residents with a lot of pertinent and extremely important information about the currently proposed WRF. To find out how you can donate to help cover their workshop costs and related expenses, email them here or visit their Facebook page.
What can we do with what we learned?
Talk to your friends and neighbors in Morro Bay. Spend a couple of minutes educating residents you know about the rising project costs and how much their water and sewer rates will increase should they take no action. Most importantly, tell residents that they must protest the proposed rate increases under Prop. 218 by submitting a written protest to the City during the 45-day protest period. At this time, we do not know when the City will mail their Prop. 218 notice. As soon as residents receive the notice, that will commence the protest period.
Once the protest period starts, CAL will provide clear and simple instructions on how to effectively protest the upcoming rate hikes. Similarly, Save Morro Bay will provide residents with an online fillable Prop. 218 protest form that is conveniently sent to their email address as a copy to be printed, signed and mailed to the City.
Residents have a choice. We’ll help you make the right one.