Some guy from another blog got all Ã¢â‚¬Å“JuicedÃ¢â‚¬Â up last night whining that we missed the story about the increase in OC sewer rates. No, we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t miss it, we simply covered other crap.
The blogs have been all in a tizzy over the increase in sewer fees, so I figured I should check out what they were complaining about before I flushed my thoughts on the topic.
Yes, the Orange County Sanitation District Board did indeed vote to raise sewer fees. The increase is a whopping $19 a year, or just under $ 1.60 a month. Wow, Crap Costs Money.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I also found out from the OCSD website.
Who is the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD)?
OCSD is responsible for safely collecting, treating, and disposing of wastewater. Separate from the County of Orange or any city government, it is governed by a 25-member board of directors represented by a member of the board of supervisors, 3 local sewer agencies and 21 cities within our 470-square-mile service area.
What is the fee?
The sewer service fee is for the collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater (sewage). It is a fee, not a tax because it is not based on the value of the property, but upon average use of the sewerage system.
How is the fee calculated?
It is based upon the type of property.Ã‚Â Residential properties, including condominiums and town homes, are charged a flat rate.Ã‚Â Multi-family (apartment buildings including duplexes and triplexes) and mobile home parks are charged on a per unit basis.Ã‚Â Non-residential properties are charged a rate per thousand square feet of improvements.Ã‚Â The rate varies based upon the use of the property.
Why was the rate increase needed?
- As the sixth largest wastewater treatment agency in the United States, several factors influence future costs and rates to cover them.
- Increased costs of chemicals, managing biosolids, maintaining clean beaches, moving to additional secondary treatment, funding half of the water reclamation Ground Water Replenishment System (GWR System), and the ongoing need to replace our aging infrastructure to name a few.
- To continue operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and maintain the reliable service youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come to expect, it is essential we continue investing in our facilities.
- Additionally, these increases in the next few years will allow the District to avoid additional borrowing and debt service payments which would result in even higher rates in the future.
- The District maintains a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that requires nearly $1.5 billion over the next ten years.Ã‚Â Large projects within the CIP include:Ã‚Â
- Funding for the Groundwater Replenishment System, the world’s largest water reclamation plant which helps convert 70 million gallons into drinking water every day.Ã‚Â This $490 million project joint funded with the Orange County Water District and serves as a hedge against water shortages and population growth.
- Compliance with the Federal court consent decree requiring the District to move to full secondary treatment levels, as required by the Clean Water Act, by December 2012.Ã‚Â The goal of this initiative is to minimize the bacteria and solids dispersed out into the ocean.
- Various rehabilitation projects to replace the DistrictÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s aging infrastructure, including the headworks replacement at Plant No. 2, a $260 million project.
What is the approved annual single family residence sewer fee over the next 5 years?
The proposed rates are:
2008-2009 – $201
2009-2010 – $221
2010-2011 – $244
2011-2012 – $267
2012 – 2013 – $294
The reason for the rate increase is pretty clear, Crap Costs Money to dispose of. Now I suppose we could blame the Ã¢â‚¬Å“liberalsÃ¢â‚¬Â for demanding that our crap be treated to drinking water purity before dumping it into that big blue thing to our west, but then the same people would complain about beach closures.
The Board that decided to raise the sewer rates is made up of representatives from the county and other cities and jurisdictions in the district. These representatives are among the most conservative ideologues in Orange County, why would they vote to increase fees. Well, since these same people believe for the most part that government should be run like a business, they looked at the balance sheet. They probably discovered that Crap Costs Money and not enough money is coming in to cover the costs. In a business, you pass the costs along to the consumer. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what they did.
Folks, Crap Costs Money! Public services like police, fire, health care, restaurant inspections, etc. all cost money.Ã‚Â In an environment where our property taxes donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t match our property values, thanks to Prop 13, the money has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is in fees. Now we could repeal Prop 13, or change it to allow property be taxed at its actual value, but people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want there property taxes to go up. I cannot find much if any waste in the OCSD budget, maybe someone else can point out where the budget can be cut to prevent the rate increase? I doubt it. So to the blowhards on the other blogs whining about the Ã¢â‚¬Å“outrageous fee increasesÃ¢â‚¬Â all I can say is if we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to sit in our own crap, or swim in it at the beach, someone has got to pay for it. The simple fact isÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Crap Costs Money.