by Matt Williams
In yesterday’s thread keithvb made the following post,
“It is obvious to me that we need a complicated, difficult to understand system of paying for our water. That way we will all be hoodwinked together.”
Have you ever tried explaining why your current water bill is equal to the amount it is?
Let’s take a journey through one of our current water bills, asking ourselves a few questions. Please jump in and post a comment if you know the answer to any of these questions.
1. How many parts does the rate structure have?
2. What are the two parts called?
3. Why are the parts called what they are called?
4. What size water meter do you have?
5. Why is the size of your meter important?
6. Since Prop 218 mandates that billing be proportional to the cost of service for each account, how confident are you that the first part of your monthly bill meets the Prop 218 standard of proportionality?
7. Said another way, what exactly are you being billed for in the first part of your monthly bill?
8. In the second part of your monthly bill you are paying $1.50 per ccf in Tier 1 and $1.90 in Tier 2. How do you know whether those charges per ccf are fair?
9. Do you care whether those charges are fair?
10. What parts of your bill can you affect changes in? Where will those changes appear? When will they appear?
11. What do the charges in the second part of your monthly bill pay for?
I will stop now with the questions. How many of you are feeling that keith’s phrase “complicated and difficult to understand” is a perfect description of our current two-tariff rate structure?
A. A new well is being added to the system, what part of your bill will your personal share of the cost of that well appear?
B. You have just walked to your mailbox to mail your annual insurance premium for your homeowners policy to your insurance company, and you look across the street at the fire hydrant and wonder, “What part of my bill contains the cost for the water that will come from that hydrant if I have a fire?”
C. Should you pay for fire hydrant water even if you never have a fire?
D. How do you think you should pay for the costs of fire hydrant water?
E. You just flushed your new low-flow toilet. What part of your bill will the water for that flush appear on? When will it appear?
F. If Measure I passes and the surface water plant moves forward, what part of your bill will your personal share of the construction costs of the SWP appear?
G. If Measure I passes and the surface water plant moves forward, but Council decides to ditch CBFR and continue our current rate structure, what part of your bill will your personal share of the construction costs of the SWP appear?
H. In what part of your bill will your personal share of the annual cost of the mortgage for the purchase of the Conaway water right appear?
I. You just got back from a long winter vacation and not a drop of water was used in your house while you were gone. When you reach out to turn on the kitchen sink faucet, do you worry about whether water will come out or not?
J. If you have no worries that water will come out, are there any costs that the system incurs to make sure you don’t worry?
K. Should you pay for those “no worry costs”? If yes, what part of the bill do you think they should be part of?
“Non-transparent, complex systems pushed by government are designed to hide the truth. This is just another example..”
As you think back on your journey through the 20 questions above, which rate structure is non-transparent? Which rate structure hides costs? Does either rate structure qualify as “not complex”?