CITY OF RIVERSIDE: EXCESSIVE WATER TAXATION?

Posted: May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

If you think the City of Bell had serious taxation problems and mis-appropriation of funds, if you were shocked by the posting on electric rates, grab your socks again, and you may want to grab everbody else’s!  Every city’s doin it! Is what’s being said…but it looks as if the people are taking the upper hand on this, or as Charley Sheen would say, “Winning”!  For example, the City of Fullerton.

CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW FULL LETTER

Or in this article in the Orange County Register questioning $27 million in illegal water fees..  And of course challenging Fullerton’s illegal water tax as in this article.  And again, more on the City of Fullerton and illegal water rate increases.  But onward, let’s look at the City of Riverside.

Riverside levies hidden taxes on your utility bill.  They are simply and stealthily included in the utility rates the city charges residential customers.  Your minimum tax rate on water and electric utility services to your property is 11.5%.   It expands upward from there depending on how much utility service you use that is subject to punitive tiered pricing.

Let us look at your bill for water and the city’s wa-1 residential winter water rate schedule.  The first tier or the base metered rate for water service is $1.13 per ccf (this is the metered unit of measure for water service and is 100 cubic feet of water).   The base rate is charged to the consumption of each of the first 15 ccf of water service each month.   On a per ccf basis $0.13 of the first tier rate per ccf is tax revenue paid to the general fund.  That is a tax rate of 11.5%.

Should you exceed first tier usage as most homeowners do then, you are charged at the second tier price of $1.64 per ccf from the 16th thru the 35 th ccf of service.   The difference of $0.51 per ccf in the second tier water rate is an additional tax for using more water service than the city thinks you should.  It is a punitive tax to economically force you the consumer to conserve water.   You are being taxed even though you are using water for beneficial purposes and not wasting water.   Looking at just the $0.51 price difference per ccf of first tier and second tier ccfs the effective tax rate is 39%!

Should you use more than 35 ccf of water service per month you are billed at the 3rd tier rate of $2.26 per ccf for those units consumed from the 36th thru the 60 th ccf.   The third tier tax is $1.26 per ccf.  This is an effective tax rate of 56%!

Now, if you are a big-time water waster according to the city, you pay the fourth tier rate of $2.75 per ccf for any ccfs consumed over 60 ccf per month.   The price difference from the 1st tier is $1.62 per ccf and the 4th tier effective tax rate is 64%!!   Now that’s a punitive tax!

 

If this really bothers you, wait until the summer rates kick in on your June billing.

Residential water rate schedule wa-1 summer.

1st tier 0-15 ccf      $1.14       your tax rate=11.5%

2nd tier 16-35 ccf   $1.83       your tax rate=44%

3rd tier  36-60 ccf   $2.85      your tax rate=64%

4th tier  >60ccf        $4.10      your tax rate=75%

To help put this into perspective with how our water is produced by pumping wells and the fact that Riverside does not buy expensive imported water please review the following facts:

  • Water production is measured in acre feet of water.  That is enough water to stand 12 inches deep on one acre of land.
  • A ccf is water  your city water meter records as you consume water service.  A ccf is one hundred cubic feet of water.   There are 436 ccfs in an acre foot of water.
  • Imported water from northern California or the Colorado River is priced between $550-800 per acre foot.  According to Dave Wright, the city does not buy imported water.   Dave also says, we are water independent even during the statewide drought of recent years.
  • The city’s cost to provide ground water to you is less than $300 per acre foot.   That calculates to $0.68 per ccf at your meter.  They do need some funds to maintain the infrastructure (the extra $0.32 ??).
  • At the city’s summer 1st tier rate of $1.15 per ccf , you are paying $500 per acre foot of water at your meter. 
  • At the city’s 2nd tier summer rate of $1.83 per ccf, you are paying $800 per acre foot of water at your meter. 
  • At the city’s 3rd tier summer rate of $2.85 per ccf, you are paying $1,243.00 per acre foot of water.
  • At the city’s 4th tier summer rate of $4.10 per ccf, you are paying $1,788.00 per acre foot of water.
  • A municipal utility is not allowed to make money.  It is a government owned monopoly and may not charge more than the actual cost of providing the service to you at your property.  They are budgeted to break even.  They have reserve funds in case of a bad year and the City can always make a loan or spend other tax revenue to cover an annual loss.
  • In recent years the city has taken no steps to reduce costs of operating its’ utilities.  They have taken every opportunity to expand the cost to residential consumers.
  • The water utility has a huge fixed annual cost (mostly debt payments) averaged over the calculated water rates and total annual production.  It must sell all of its planned annual production to recoup the funds needed to pay the bills.  If you are forced to conserve water, the city has to automatically raise the price.  It is the Math!
  • The city makes more money by transfers to the general fund with every rate increase!  A city general fund may only receive tax revenue.

Now that is some profit margin of hidden taxes!  Where is your money going?  I hope you can live on 15 ccf of water service per month!!

Remember the City Municipal Code requires all property owners to landscape, irrigate, mow, trim and weed all portions of their property that faces a public street or right of way.  Code enforcement may issue you a citation and a fine of up to $1000.00 per day and/or prosecution of a misdemeanor for failing to adequately water your front yard!  If you fail to comply with Code enforcement a lien for the fines will be placed on your property and the city will enforce the lien and auction your house on the court house steps to satisfy the lien.   See Municipal Code Chapter 6.14.

Most residential properties in the city have a right to a water allotment equal to the annual amount originally supplied to your land by any of the original water companies that first supplied water to your property via canal, ditch or pipes (Cal. Supreme, A.O. Price v. The Riverside Land & Irrigation Co. , 1880).  Historical records indicate you may have a right of up to 10 acre feet of water supply per acre of land per year.  In the Supreme Courts words, “the water is welded to the land as a permanent right to the same level of water service as originally provided,  … it cannot be separated or sold from the land by the water company or the land owner or owners of either in succession.”  You are the current landowner in succession and the city is the current water company owner in succession.  This is a right to water, “the water stays with the land in perpetuity.”  This is the legal reason the City must sell 18% of its water production each year to areas outside the city in Home Gardens and Corona (but the city won’t tell you this).

The city by approving 50% increases in water rates over the last six years and instituting punitive tiered pricing is forcing you to conserve water you are entitled to use beneficially on your property (October 2006, city council approved rate hikes and tiered pricing to fund the “$1.5 billion Renaissance”).  This burden of hidden taxation falls most harshly on fixed income (retirees) and low income families in the city.

UPDATE: 05/06/2012: PRESS ENTERPRISE ENDORSES FORMER COUNCILMAN ED ADKISON..

“THE ONE WHO DOES NOT REMEMBER HISTORY IS BOUND TO LIVE THROUGH IT AGAIN”..  – GEORGE SANTAYANA

UPDATE: 0505/17/2012: FORMERS DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY RAYCHELE STERLING SUES THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE, INCLUDING CITY ATTORNEY GREGORY PRIAMOS  AND FORMER CITY MANAGER BRAD HUDSON.  OF COURSE, WERE WE SURPRISED? ACCORDING TO GREGORY, THE CASE HAS NO MERIT.

8:27 PM on 5/17/2012

I believe her claims.There’s a reason why over the years, those in office use the same construction firms, law firms, management firms, environmental firms and so on..they know people in those business so when they get “approved” for their services, the price is millions over the cost than it should be so each side makes a profit under the table..on our dime..but yet..city services are struggling to make ends meet. perhaps if they take a look at their dirty deeds and wasteful/corrupt spending and bilking and quit looking toward us to pay for their actions, they would have money to pay the paychecks and their bills instead of using the guise of “the money just isn’t there”..it’s there buried under “official accounts” for various services that don’t exist.  – Navyguyhm3, commenter on the PE.

TMC ENDORSES DVONNE PITRUZZELLO FOR CITY OF RIVERSIDE MAYOR

STEVE CLUTE ASK FOR YOUR VOTE ON JUNE 5TH FOR THE OFFICE OF STATE SENATE!

CLUTE SAYS NO! TO DOM BETRO AND JANE CARNEY!

BOB BUSTER ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR RIVERSIDE COUNTY SUPERVISOR ON JUNE 5TH

TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S MOST “SLANDEROUS” AND MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE!  TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED.  I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO THE ACLU.  RATED ONE TWO STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS..  TMC IS NOW EXCLUSIVELY ON FILE WITH THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, AND PROSSIBLY POSSIBLY ON FILE WITH THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE’S POTENTIAL SLAPP SUIT LIST… WE WILL HAVE TO ASK GREGORY ABOUT THAT ONE ( OUR PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO CONTACT HIS PEOPLE)… AGAIN, THANK-YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT!  WE REALIZE IT’S TOUGH, SO HANG IN THERE.. COMMENTS ALWAYS

Comments
  1. Zippy says:

    We are lucky to own a home on a large lot in the La Sierra Hills. About 3/4 acre is fenced and landscaped, the rest we keep natural. Although much of the yard is xeriscaped or even bare, most of our Summer water usage is in the top tier. I guess we’re supposed to live 10 feet from our neighbors down in Riverwalk with a postage stamp sized lawn…this is not the Riverside I have loved for 45 years!

  2. calico lane says:

    I live in central Riverside. My property is a kiss less than 1/4 acre. I have cut my lawn watering down to 2-3 times a week, my lawn is dying and resembles concrete just to maintain a 15cc comsumption rate of water which came to $16.95. So what the hell is the additional consumer charge of $13.99 for? I added the mystery fees on my May utility bill and they came to $43.43. Times this by 12 months, that’s a whopping $522.36 a year going where? They can keep their free tree.

    Calico Lane

    • thirtymiles says:

      Consumer Charge– is ill defined and not easy to understand. I have trouble myself. We used to see meter charges on the bill. A charge for the cost of the meter, maintenance/repair, sending someone out each month to read the meter and prepare the bill.
      In the legal sense of prop 218 and the court decisions on what is a water rate vs. fees and charges or taxes becomes a complicated subject. A water rate should be a flat rate not a tiered rate (which is actually a formula for calculating your tax for using more than 15ccf/mo). The flat water rate should only recover the cost the utility incurs for providing the water to your property/meter. It is not tax revenue. A city is only authorized to collect and spend tax revenue. City departments are authorized in the city budget to spend money and recover via fees, rates and charges the actual cost of providing the services. Cost recovery is only for all the variable costs of providing the water to your land over the 12 month budget cycle. The utility fixed costs such as, office rent, utilities, labor, administrative overhead ect. employee benefits….. are recovered from the meter fee. Meter fees are calculated based upon the service capacity of your meter connection to the water main. It is expressed as pipe diameter. Most homes are 3/4 inch and large properties or buildings have pipe connections up to 10 inches. The pipe diameter and meter size relate directly to how much water will flow per minute. This is service demand 24/7 and relates to water availability at the property for use. The cost of providing large service capacity is in the infrastructure capital investment( tax revenue). Capital investment in replacing old infrastructure, upgrading systems is paid from tax revenue from property assessments or special taxes. It is not a cost of providing the water service to your property. Rather it is the cost of providing the capacity to serve your property along with all the other customers.
      The city includes capital investment cost in the rate calculations to drive the price up. Has anyone read or heard of the utility department cutting costs or reducing total budget amounts? We are in the deepest recession since 1929 and the spending only goes up! We are still at 12% unemployment! Something is terribly wrong with the City and you see it in your utility bill.
      By the way the ‘free tree’ program is not really free, it cost us approxamately $500,000.00 yearly, and paid for as one of the charges on your water bill.

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