Coalition launches to oppose $135 million water takeover

This fall, Claremont residents will be asked to weigh in on a consequential ballot measure that, if passed, would result in water bills approximately $100 per month higher than they are today. The city is seeking voter support for a $135 million water bond.
A local coalition of community members, some of whom were born and raised in Claremont and all of whom have a vested interest in the future of our city, have joined together to oppose Measure W and educate the public about its harmful consequences.
We are proud to live in a community of residents who pride themselves on thoughtful engagement of issues based on facts. Residents should review the facts, look closely at the claims being made about Measure W and ask if it’s worth the cost to current and future generations of Claremont residents.
For our neighbors who believe a takeover of the water system will lead to lower water bills, we encourage you to read the city’s own impartial analysis of the ballot measure, which concedes that water bills will increase immediately. By how much? Measure W supporters don’t know and haven’t provided residents with the facts to justify the $135 million plan.
What we do know is this—a former Claremont McKenna professor studied Measure W’s debt plan and concluded that each Claremont household would have to pay $36,510. That’s an extra $1,217 per year. Note, this is simply the cost to pay off the bond obligation and doesn’t include the price to provide water service or the cost of maintenance.
Look no further than the recent UCLA water main rupture that tore through Los Angeles to understand the rising costs to maintain and replace southern California’s aging infrastructure. Costs for infrastructure repair and replacement are not included in the $135 million price tag. Those costs will be factored into future water rates and will be borne solely by Claremont taxpayers.
In the history of California, there has never been a successful eminent domain takeover of a water company where the cost savings and lower rates people promised actually occurred.
Proponents of eminent domain takeovers greatly underestimate the value of a water system.  A recent example occurred in Santa Cruz County, where the cost to purchase the Felton system was 250 percent more than proponents initially promised ($13.4 million vs. $5.3 million) and 670 percent more than takeover supporters initially promised ($2 million).
Measure W doesn’t include any provisions to limit future rate increases. In 10 years, a new city council can raise the water tax without any voter approval. Make no mistake, once we are indebted to bondholders, regardless of how much water we use, we’ll be forced to pay down the debt on this $135 million bond obligation.  
Measure W doesn’t offer any improvements to the local water system and will only straddle us with long-term debt. This is an unwise maneuver that’s not in the best interest of Claremont taxpayers. There are too many questions unanswered. We stand by our NO vote.
Mark Sterba                       Donna Lowe
David Burgdorf                   Jay Pocock
Danny Holznecht
“Stop the Claremont Water Tax” members


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