The New York Times reported today that about 20 percent of the nation’s water supply is dirty, and while the story certainly gets to the cleanliness of the water, there’s a different kind of dirty water story in Tustin where the Republican city council majority is in a quandry.Â They need the vote of Democratic council member Deborah Gavello to pass a badly needed water rate increase (God forbid Tustin Council member and AD-70 GOP candidate Jerry Amante vote for what amounts to a tax increase and still keep his conservative credentials) but they can’t get it.
Currently, residents in Tustin Ranch are subsidizing water rates for residents (rate payers) in both Tustin and Santa Ana to the tune of $1 million a year.Â During the past year, Tustin council members Doug Davert and John Nielsen proposed and voted in favor of a rate increase of 60 percent over the next five years.Â While Council member Jerry Amante clearly wants the increase, to vote for it would be political suicide for Amante’s assembly candidacy.Â So their solution is to browbeat Gavello into supporting a massive water rate increase to get what they want and then brand her as a tax-and-spend liberal. It’s not working.
Gavello has urged the Tustin city staff to consider a partnership with the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) which could save Tustin taxpayers about $20 million in borrowing costs alone (IRWD already provides exceptional water service to half the ratepayers in Tustin currently, so it’s not a stretch to expand the service area); the alternative is that cash poor Tustin would have to acquire $45 million in bonds with an A rating or lower. Tustin’s poor credit combined with the fact Tustin’s water system is a cost center and not a profit center means Tustin taxpayers would be getting hosed twice.Â By aligning Tustin’s water system with IRWD, which has a much better bond rating than Tustin does, Gavello’s proposal could help Tustin get the improvements they need to the water system while saving tons of cash.
While Amante didn’t vote for the rate increase, he did take the time to verbally attack Gavello after the vote was taken; Davert verbally abused the council member before the vote; Jerry, if this is what you wanted, you should have voted your conscience..it’s called doing your job.Â In retaliation, the council majority stripped Gavello of her committee appointments.Â Nice going boys.