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Rigonomics:

Hard to form opinion without information

December 11, 2009|By Jim Righeimer

To be fair, the water district has a reputation for being a fiscally responsible agency; in fact, this last week, the California Special District Association honored MCWD with the District of Distinction Accreditation.

According to the district, of the 500 agencies that deliver water to customers in Southern California, only five hold that distinction.

I know one of the requirements to get that accreditation is for the agency to be transparent in all of their finances. It would seem to me that the Special District Assn. require those finances to be available on the district website; not having that information available on the Web is not the type of transparency ratepayers expect nowadays.

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So, yes, I am a little frustrated with the lack of information. I called my good friend and newly appointed director of the Mesa Consolidated Water District, Jim Fisler. Before being appointed to the water district board, Fisler served with me on the Costa Mesa Planning Commission.

I discussed my concern that it appeared the board might be pushing this multiyear rate increase through without the proper input from the ratepayers. Having a meeting three days before Christmas and not having the documents readily available on the Web could be construed as the board trying to rush the rate increase through.

Fisler listened to my concern and said he would see what he could do.

A couple of hours later, I got a call from the district’s newly appointed general manager, Paul Shoenberger. Shoenberger , a registered professional engineer, spent nine years on the board as a director before he resigned to become GM. I reiterated what I said to Fisler, and Shoenberger said he would see what he could do to make the financial information more readily available.

Two hours later, I got a call back from Shoenberger saying that the financial case for the rate increase will be on the district’s website at www.mesawater.org by close of business.

I still cannot opine on whether the rate increase is justified or not, as I have not had a chance to look over the figures yet. I personally may not be comfortable with voting on five rate increases at one time, but I can say it feels a little better knowing that the information was made available to the public once I asked for it.

I’m sure that getting all that information out on a Friday evening wasn’t easy. The public appreciates your quick response. If you want to see what they’re voting on, check out their website.


JIM RIGHEIMER is chairman of the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, business owner and father of four. He can be reached at Jim@Rigonomics.com.

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