Vote for Your Water Bill to Increase

By Dick Shaikewitz   |   November 1, 2018

If the Committee for Montecito Water Security fulfills their promises, you can expect your water bills to increase by about one-third. They raised $80,000 in campaign money two years ago and were successful in having their two candidates elected to the Water District Board. There are only five Water Board directors, and it takes just three to pass any measure. 

I am the only incumbent running against their three candidates. They will certainly win two more directorships. Why did they raise, as of October 20, $127,425 in campaign money to try to keep me, and the two incumbents on the Sanitary District, from being re-elected?

With the Water District having 4,600 meters, the Committee can spend close to $28 a meter to try to obtain your vote. Why don’t they want anyone with much more knowledge than their inexperienced candidates on the boards?

They spent some of their money on signs, numerous colored brochures, many newspaper ads, “Vote for” stickers, and by invitation-only private meetings. We, the incumbents, asked the Montecito Association to have a forum for all the candidates, just as they did two years ago. The Association refused. 

Could it have anything to do with one of the Association directors running for the Water District, one or more of their directors supporting the Committee candidates, and the Committee campaign manager also being the Montecito Association director? Neither we nor you will ever know.

With all of what the Committee has done, there has not been one word written by them on how they plan on paying for their “Promised Security.” The proposed $1/4 billion, 50-year desal contract with the City and the proposed recycled wastewater facility will cost our water users about $7 million. This will have to be added to the District’s $19 million budget.

Security Sounds Wonderful

Right now, we are in a drought and “security” sounds wonderful. But look at Montecito’s weather history. In the early 1900s, there was a bad drought followed by about 20+ years of normal weather. After World War II, another bad drought followed by another 20+ years of normal weather. In the 1980s and early 1990s, more bad drought followed by another 20+ years of normal weather; and then the current bad drought.

How many Water District customers will be unhappy with their bills increasing as soon as the Committee can fulfill their promises, and then, even worse, continue to be high when the drought is over and water use decreases, but the bills don’t?

I have spent slightly less than $2,000 on this campaign. I think it’s immoral to do what the Committee is doing. Many of them believe that keeping their lawns and golf courses looking nice is more important than higher water bills. I don’t.

Several of them have misstated what I have done in the past, such as claiming the District lost grant funding by not having a five-year Urban Water Management Plan. And that they are responsible for the District getting one when their two candidates were elected. The District had no projects that would qualify for a State grant, and so there was no need to have a plan, since we were already doing what a plan would require. We allocated $40,000 in the summer of 2015 into our next budget for an Urban Plan because we were going to consider projects that might qualify for a State grant. This was done one-and-a-half years before their two candidates were elected.

We were accused for turning down a $100,000 gift from residents to obtain a proposal from PERC, a private for-profit company to help in the drought. They forgot to mention that we cooperated with PERC, and when we asked PERC for the proposal, we were told the District should contribute an additional $100,000 to show our good faith. We thought it was bait and switch.

Due to the worst drought in California’s history, the District had to impose rationing to force conservation, and we had an appeal process (which the law requires) for customers to appeal penalties. Bob Hazard thought this was demeaning and criticized us. He failed to mention that he had an appeal. His wife attended and was happy when their penalty was forgiven, just as many other customers had been, due to her discovering and fixing the problem in a reasonable length of time. She said she’s the one who reads the water meter and gets things fixed because Bob is not mechanical. He can’t even change a light bulb.

If I, and the two incumbents running for the Sanitary District are re-elected, you will have directors to look out for your interest and try to explain to any Committee people on the boards, the facts of life about keeping rates as low as possible. We care about you. They care about their lawns and golf courses.

Please vote for me, Dick Shaikewitz, for the Water Districts, and the two incumbents for the Sanitary District. Even though you have three votes for the Water District, it would help me even more if you use one of them for me, and none for any of the other three candidates.


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