By Peter Allan, Pat Hanson, and Chris Mann
On Tuesday, Apple Valley voters will finally be able to weigh in on what has been a three-year effort by government to use eminent domain to force the takeover of the local water system. We encourage everyone to cast a ballot, because this is important to current residents as well as the future of Apple Valley.
Here is information that can be found in your official Voter Information Guide:
- Measure F lets government borrow up to $150 million. Bonds would be repaid, plus interest, by ratepayers, through a new debt service fee added to your existing water bill.
- Measure F lets government force you to pay up to 12 percent interest on the $150 million, “daily, weekly, monthly or semi-annually.” The debt’s total cost can exceed $558 million.
- Measure F will eliminate low-income water discounts that help seniors and working families. People on fixed incomes would lose the discount, plus have to pay the new debt service fee.
- Measure F lets politicians raid public funds, unrelated to water, to repay principal and interest. Town of Apple Valley documents state they’re planning to charge expensive new water connection fees, increasing new home prices by tens of thousands of dollars.
- Measure F would eliminate the independent state water ratepayer watchdog, removing transparency and accountability.
Your water bill will increase by at least $500 every year if Measure F passes and an eminent domain takeover is successful. Those are the findings of two separate economic studies, one by the Inland Empire’s most respected economist, Dr. John Husing, and another by California’s top water economist, Dr. Rodney T. Smith. Their independent findings are based on thorough studies of the facts from all sides of the debate. The reason for their conclusions is simple. There is no way to borrow and repay $150 million, plus interest, while maintaining quality, reliable water service, without charging ratepayers a lot more.
Dr. Husing and Dr. Smith’s findings are consistent with extensive work done by the Apple Valley Blue Ribbon Water Committee. This committee studied the facts, consulted both sides, and concluded that the costs of a takeover to ratepayers would exceed $200 million and result in significant water bill increases now and in the future.
(Government officials had spent at least $1.5 million on this takeover effort through Aug. 31, 2016, two-thirds of that on attorneys fees.) The latest was a $25,000 taxpayer-funded piece by Dr. Christopher Thornberg that suggests the government’s promises are reasonable. A simple Google search will explain why Dr. Thornberg holds this position.
Dr. Thornberg opposes Proposition 13, which protects taxpayers from massive property tax increases. He called Prop 13 “evil,” and said: “I can’t think of one reason in the world why Prop 13 should exist. I think it’s an awful, regressive tax.” More recently, Dr. Thornberg supported the recent massive gas tax and vehicle license fee increases that will be tied to inflation without end. He recently wrote in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that these tax and fee increases, “are an important first step” but “it won’t be enough.”
If one thing is clear, it is that Dr. Thornberg is not shy about pushing policies that result in government taking more money away from taxpayers. Measure F does exactly that.
The reality is that there has not been a single eminent domain takeover in California history where water bills decreased. The opposite is true. In every case, water bills increased dramatically. The most recent example is Felton, where voters were promised lower bills. They passed debt like Measure F and agreed to pay $500 every year in repayment fees. But instead of lower bills, Felton residents got a 67 percent water rate increase. They protested, but there was nothing they could do about it.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, has said this in relation to our situation here in Apple Valley, “As taxpayer advocates, we’re concerned whenever government attempts to take over a private business, using the power of eminent domain. The promises are rarely kept, and costs invariably exceed projections. Taxpayers need to be fully informed and extremely cautious.”
Before you cast your ballot, please remember this final point. If not for Apple Valley voters, you would never have the opportunity to vote on the $150 million debt. Government officials wanted to borrow the money without a vote of the people, and it was only due to local citizen efforts to hold government accountable for wasteful spending that we have a chance to vote on Measure F.
Now it’s time for voters to make their voices known to protect our families and future generations of Apple Valley voters. Please say No to water bill increases for every family of at least $500 every year to repay $150 million in debt. Say No to a new water fee added to your existing water bill.
Join us and please vote No on Measure F.
Peter Allan is former mayor of Apple Valley. Pat Hanson is an Apple Valley resident. Chris Mann is the founder of the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association.
Source: Daily Press