San Juan Capistrano

More Water Rate Increases?

By Kim Lefner

San Juan residents, hold onto your wallets. The City Council majority of Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor recently voted to proceed with the “Option 1 water rate study”. Considering that water rate “studies” typically result in rate increases (and in my opinion, are designed to justify rate increases), it’s safe to assume that the council majority is aiming to increase your water rates.

The current option increases the basic “Tier 1” amount of water allowed by the City from its current 6ccf to 9 ccf (1 ccf is equal to 100 cubic feet of water or 748 gallons). Increasing the allocation sounds like a good thing, but this allocation is based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines*, a third-world standard for emergency indoor water use at 62 gallons per person per day. For a family of 4 this equals 7,440 gallons per month. In a modern country, 14,960 gallons per month for a family of 4 would be considered barely adequate for indoor use, even with water-saving appliances and no outdoor irrigation.

The problem with setting the allocation at 9ccf is that it is so low that it will cause an average family to use more water than Tier 1 allows, which then forces them into Tier 2, which in turn increases the cost by 39%. This raises the question; is the allocation about conservation or is it about increasing revenue to the City?

Mission Viejo

MV Resident Larry Gilbert
Voting Records Speak Louder Than Words

By Larry Gilbert

When election time rolls around, who do you vote for, especially when the June 2014 ballot has multiple candidates competing for the same seat?

One race that impacts all voters in south county is the replacement of Pat Bates, who is termed out as Orange County (OC) Supervisor representing the 5th District.

As a volunteer campaign consultant in local elections, one of the key points I share with challengers is to review the voting record of incumbents. Do they say one thing and vote another? Do they keep their promises and vote accordingly, even when they may not win over their peers on specific issues or do they simply “go along to get along”?

San Juan Capistrano

 Comp Gone Wild

By Kim Lefner

No wonder SJC’s water costs are high. As the Utilities Department Employee Compensation chart indicates (see inset), San Juan taxpayers last year paid 18 Utilities Department employees more than 2.2 million dollars for wages and benefits.

The health insurance costs are nearly $300,000 per year for these 18 Utilities Department employees. That amounts to 23% of each employee’s salary. SJC taxpayers pay 100% of the employee AND their families’ health/dental insurance benefits - for the highest, most lavish benefit plan. A City memo indicates that until recently, if an employee chose an HMO instead of a PPO, they could get the difference back in cash. 


That cost doesn’t include the employee retirement pension benefits which amount to 35% of their salaries. Don’t get me wrong, good employees deserve a good retirement but at this rate, SJC residents will be bankrupt. How much are you able to contribute to your retirement pension (assuming you even have one)? Most corporations have slashed their employee’s retirement contributions to 6%. Our city’s is 35%. This might explain why our town’s unfunded pension liability is reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars. As is the case with most financial reporting in our city, the exact figure of our unfunded pension liability is difficult to determine; I’ve heard amounts ranging from 25 to 48 million dollars. And that’s not all. Between overtime

Mission Viejo

Basics First Please

By Ed Sachs

City councils manage basic services. Basic services include public safety, transportation flow and maintenance, city appearance, park maintenance, trash, restroom facilities and other related services.
Mission Viejo resident Ed Sachs

When a new project or event comes before the council, the key questions every council member need to ask is; how would my vote benefit the residents and do we have funds to pay for (the project)? Bringing restrooms to some of our parks is a “yes” to this question in my opinion.

For a number of years, the Mission Viejo council majority has approved “feel-good” projects and events, spending taxpayer money with little discernible benefit to city residents. A few examples are the over-built Marguerite Tennis Center, a Rose Parade float and more recently, subsidizing the for-profit International Tennis Federation Wheelchair Tennis Tournament.
The City of Mission Viejo spent $300,000 on this Rose Parade float 

Our city council majority made these items priorities over children urinating in park bushes or on themselves. If we can walk and chew gum at the same time, we should also be able to consider installing restrooms at the parks where we have so    many sports activities.

A $5 million tennis center renovation is used only by a small percentage of Mission Viejo residents. Recently, the tennis center was used for the aforementioned International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. What a wonderful opportunity to show off our city and boost our local business economy, right?

San Juan Capistrano

WATER RATE LAWSUIT UPDATE

By John Perry
Board Member, Capistrano Taxpayers Association

When the City Council majority voted to increase water rates in February 2010 by 40% in the first year, with annual increases of 3% per year thereafter, they were warned that the new rate structure did not comply with Proposition 218, which holds that water rates must be based on the actual cost to deliver the water. The new system prepared by water consultant Black and Veatch at the behest of the City used steeply tiered rates to force water conservation. The City tightened the water allocation which forced water users into three billing “tiers” at progressively higher rates designed to punish water users. The City was also warned that charging residential customers for recycled water they were not receiving was a violation of Proposition 218.

In July 2012, the attorney for the newly formed Capistrano Taxpayers Association (CTA) wrote two letters to the City requesting that the City disclose the basis (justification) for its progressive water rate schedule or the CTA would file suit. The City ignored the requests so the suit was filed in August 2012. After a year of legal wrangling, the trial took place in August 2013 and an OC Superior Court judge ruled that the City had indeed adopted and charged illegal water rates. The judge issued an order directing the City to immediately stop billing the illegal water rates and to stop billing domestic water users for recycled water that weren’t receiving. The City Council voted to appeal the judgment and to continue billing the illegal water rates during the appeal period.

Mission Viejo

Who Do Your Candidates Really Represent?

By Joe Holtzman

Wendy Bucknum has announced her candidacy for the Mission Viejo City Council in the November election. Bucknum’s fundraiser will not be held in Mission Viejo, but rather in San Juan Capistrano at the Marbella Country Club. The organization that connects Bucknum with her campaign financiers is the Virginia-based “Community Associations Institute”. Her fundraiser invitation lists four hosts and “Community Industry Association Friends.” One look at Bucknum’s donor list and the crony capitalism is clear; these outsiders want their lobbyist on Mission Viejo’s council.

To understand Bucknum’s job as a professional lobbyist in the housing industry, it’s important to understand who/what she lobbies for. She is employed by “Professional Community Management” (PCM), a huge management company that works with Home Owners Associations (HOAs). Their website describes their work with developers and builders; “We provide developers and builders [with] the peace of mind of having a single point of contact...”

SJC - MV


Candidate Update - Mission Viejo


Editor’s Note: Listed below is an update on Anna Bryson, candidate for State Assembly 73rd District, whose voting record was published in the December 2013 issue of the CCS.
Judge Rules State Assembly Candidate Anna Bryson’s Official Candidate Statement Illegal

By Dale Tyler

CUSD Trustee Anna Bryson
Candidate for State Assembly
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled recently that Anna Bryson, Capistrano Unified School Board (“CUSD”) Trustee and current candidate for the California State Assembly 73rd District, made an illegal false and misleading statement in her official Candidate Statement. The judge ordered the Orange County Registrar of Voters to revise the false statement before it is printed and distributed to voters with their sample ballots.
Bryson made the following statement in her official Candidate Statement, “On the school board, I returned $59 million to taxpayers.

On March 17, 2014, Mission Viejo resident and business owner Dale Tyler filed a petition with the court seeking to have the false statement stricken or revised so that voters would not be misled. Tyler argued, and the Court agreed, this was an illegal statement in violation of Elections Code section 13313(b) (2) because it was false and/or misleading. Tyler provided evidence to the Court that Bryson had never returned millions to taxpayers. Evidence included Declarations from CUSD Trustee, Ellen Addonizio and Sharon Campbell, Mission Viejo resident and expert in school district finances.
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