Fairgrounds water rate increase outrageous
We recently received a notice from the county that our water rates will be going up effective Oct. 1. We didn’t realize just how much they were going up until we found out that we were not in the East Valley Water District, as we thought, but instead in the Fairgrounds District. To say that the difference between the two district increases is substantial would be to understate it.
For example, this past month, my water bill was $247. Under the new rates, for the exact same usage, my bill will be $787 for just one month. Frankly, this is past ridiculous. We have a lovely lawn and many nice bushes and trees and it stretches our budget to be able to afford the $247 a month. Because we do not travel as much as we used to, we do enjoy looking out over the lawn and landscaping. If the rate increase goes into effect, there is no way we will be able to afford this.
So, where does that leave us? We are living on a fixed income, having retired a few years back. We are not extravagant, and in fact are fairly conservative, and do not waste water. Do we allow the trees, lawn and shrubs to die? Do we pay someone to remove them? Neither alternative is acceptable. Our neighbors are all facing the same dilemma. Most of us here are retired. With the economy being in the tank the last few years, we have seen our property values plummet by 50 percent. We have seen Social Security frozen, but of course the Medicare portion was not frozen and will go up. Our other costs of living have gone up, but our income has decreased. Our portfolios have also been decimated. Interest rates are near zero. We have no way to generate income. We are backpedaling each month. We have heard that at least one of our neighbors will just walk away from his home if these increases do go into effect.
The current base rate which is $15 will jump to $62.85 per month in the months where you are not using outside water. This is a jump of 419 percent. How is it possible that the county can tax us such an extraordinary amount. I have talked with one of the county employees regarding the water districts and have been told that they need to recoup the “subsidy” of all the water districts, especially the Fairground District Expansion and Replacement Project that was completed last year. I have read the Douglas County Administrative Policy and Procedures on their Web site. With respect to the system replacement, it specifically addresses expansion to be paid by the “new users” and not charged to the existing customers. Obviously, there is something that is far amiss here, as there are no new developments or users.
We received a letter last year stating that one of our water wells would be vacated due to arsenic levels, and that we would be getting Minden water. Evidently, something happened in the meantime that we were never noticed on, since we are now being told that we are in the Fairgrounds District.
All water districts in the county will be receiving rate increases. We wonder how they can be so disproportionate. We also were told that the county was considering consolidating all the districts so that there would only be one district, with everyone charged the same rates.
We would like the commissioners to vote no on these rate increases. We feel there are too many unanswered questions. We believe that there needs to be a little more investigation and homework done, and that the county supervisors should not approve a rate increase that is in direct violation of their own administrative policies.
We hope that all residents who are able to go to the Sept. 2 County Commissioners Meeting at the Old Courthouse.
James and Sally Wiley are Gardnerville residents.