Due to the large number of inaccuracies about the sewer in recent letters to the editor, I felt it necessary to correct some of the misstatements.
The Nov. 13 letter by Warren Rosengren ("Referendum to overturn rate increase is appropriate") claims the manner in which the sewer increase was arranged did not give the public a fair chance. The city not only followed the procedures laid out by state law in Proposition 218, but it went much further to allow more protesters to be heard. Residential property owners in both the city and the county were given over 3 weeks more to protest than state law requires. Every property owner received two notices. Tenants who are ratepayers but not property owners were allowed to protest despite the fact that current state law does not require that their protests be counted. Property owners of undeveloped parcels in the sewer service area were not included in the protest count thus reducing the number of parcels needed for the protest to succeed. Also, the city hired the most experienced Proposition 218 attorney in the state to provide advice and assure that the process was as fair as legally possible.
The Nov. 16 letter by Marshia Loar ("Residents of the county weren't represented") objected to county residents not having a vote. If the sewer rate increase is defeated by a majority of city residents in a referendum, then the city's general fund would be liable to pay for the cost of improvements to the sewer plant. Since two-thirds of the sewer users reside in the county, why should the general fund that pays for all the services provided to city residents and businesses be diverted to pay for the total cost of the sewer plant improvements. The county sewer users need to pay their share.
The Proposition 218 process was enacted democratically by a statewide vote. When the Proposition 218 protest process was administered here, protests were received for 38 percent of the parcels that have sewer, which means that 62 percent did not protest. The City Council acted on the wishes of the majority, which is democracy, not "taxation without representation."
Also, water and sewer are utilities that provide a necessary service such as electricity, telephone, cable and trash services. These are not taxes, but the cost of providing quality and dependable services.
In the Nov. 16 letter by Gloria Brasuel, ("Veterans Memorial money should go to sewer project") the cost of a proposed veterans monument will be raised through fundraising by the veterans and arrangements to construct the monument will be done also by the veterans. The city is simply allowing the monument to be built on city owned land, and is not using funds that could have been used for the sewer. By the way, it is called a monument rather than a memorial because it is planned to honor all veterans, living and dead.
I hope this letter clears up some of the misconceptions. I hope others will call the city first to get all the facts before they write a letter to the newspaper.
Crescent City City Manager