City staff using Camp Fire to justify sewer rate increase

1 Feb

According to a rambling letter from Stephanie Taber, somebody is running a survey to determine whether “the voters” want to support a sales tax increase for street maintenance. I’ve been waiting for such a survey, but of course I know they won’t sent it or call it to me. These consultants very carefully vet their audience and contact those who are most likely to support these increases. It’s not an attempt to see what people want, but to plant ideas in their heads, and talk them into coughing up more money.

Right now the city is using a very embedded local media to run their initial campaign. Public works director Eric Gustafson was on the news recently, showing us floating piles of poop down at the sewer plant, trying to tell us the Camp Fire evacuees are putting a strain on our sewer system.

Here’s my first question – why didn’t any of this come up during past discussions of new subdivisions? Why not during the approval of Air BNB? 

I’ve heard them discuss the sewer plant – a year and a half ago, at a discussion of  cost allocation,  the sewer plant manager complained that salaries and benefits are eating up all the money at the sewer plant and they would need a rate increase or the sewer fund would go into deficit. Looking at the latest version of the city of Chico budget shows the sewer plant fund is running in deficit. 

http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/documents/2018-19CityAnnualFINALBudget.pdf

The sewer budget is divided into different categories. I used the ‘F’ search to scan down for each mention of sewer fund activity. As of July 2018 most of the totals are shown in parenthesis, which means “deficit”. Those funds not shown in deficit only have about  $100,000 or less. But look at the revenues they take in – where does all that money  go? Look at the top of the expenditures page 61/312 – “debt principal” and “debt interest”. 

That’s allll about the pensions, Honey!

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2019/01/18/heres-how-the-city-hides-payments-toward-the-pension-deficit/

Again, on page 62 – another couple of million goes to “debt principal” and “debt interest”. 

Millions of dollars for their pension funds, but no money to run the plant? 

Gustafson contradicts himself in the news story too.

Before the fire, Chico’s wastewater treatment facility processed about 6 million gallons of waste on average per day. Since then that amount has gone up to 7 million. Biosolid production has gone up 70%, while overall waste and sewage flows are up 17%.

Gustafson tells Action News Now, the facility is able to handle a capacity of 12 million gallons of waste per day. But, the city is currently equipped to take on an amount over a decade of growth, rather than overnight.”

He says capacity is 12 million gallons, but complains that waste production has gone up to 7 million. That leaves room for quite a bit more poo poo. What is this man trying to pull here?

“‘If those increased flows continue, there will be increased costs, and we will have to go to council for increased funds,’ Gustafson says.

“Chico Public Works is now working on a rate analysis to determine if a rate increase should happen to help with waste processing costs and fixing the 90-year-old underground plumbing system that supports the city.”

Now they’re mentioning the 90-year-old underground plumbing system that supports the city?  This never comes up during discussions of approving ginormous new subdivisions. 

Here’s the real reason:

“Chicoans now pay the lowest sewer rates out of all cities in the area: $22.98 per month. Compare this to Orland’s $26.10, Sacramento’s $32 and Napa’s $42.83.

Chicoans still pay the same rate, but new development has added many, many new customers since the rate was increased. And, again, the sewer plant is only operating at a little more than half capacity.

See how these people try to spin a story to make us think we need to raise our own taxes? 

This is what Steven Greenhut is talking about in “PLUNDER!” These employees are in position to tell us whatever they want. They have a local media that is more than willing to run their propaganda campaign. It’s up to the rest of us to pay attention and say something.

From Ch 12 Action News Now

CHICO SEWAGE NUMBERS SPIKE POST-CAMP FIRE

The amount of human waste production in Chico has shot up by amounts normally seen over a 10 year period.

Posted: Jan. 29, 2019 11:46 AM
Updated: Jan. 30, 2019 10:06 AM

CHICO, Calif. – The City of Chico has seen a population explosion, and it’s not just the roads that are impacted. Post-Camp Fire sewage production numbers are at an all-time high.

Action News Now reporter Stephanie Lin sat down with Public Works’ Eric Gustafson for a closer look at the cause behind all the waste. He reports seeing an average of a million gallons extra per day being pushed through the city’s treatment facilities.

“Multiple family members or friends are staying in one household,” Gustafson explains, “so that’s double the flow from one household but the [charged sewage] rate is still the same.”

The same idea applies to those living in RVs connecting to sewer hook-ups on one shared property. Then there’s all the septage from Cal OES, FEMA, and PG&E base camps. Add all these sources together, and you’ve got one big costly problem.

“If those increased flows continue, there will be increased costs, and we will have to go to council for increased funds,” Gustafson says.

Chico Public Works is now working on a rate analysis to determine if a rate increase should happen to help with waste processing costs and fixing the 90-year-old underground plumbing system that supports the city.

Chicoans now pay the lowest sewer rates out of all cities in the area: $22.98 per month. Compare this to Orland’s $26.10, Sacramento’s $32 and Napa’s $42.83.

Before the fire, Chico’s wastewater treatment facility processed about 6 million gallons of waste on average per day. Since then that amount has gone up to 7 million. Biosolid production has gone up 70%, while overall waste and sewage flows are up 17%.

THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE –  Gustafson tells Action News Now, the facility is able to handle a capacity of 12 million gallons of waste per day. But, the city is currently equipped to take on an amount over a decade of growth, rather than overnight. 

Public Works plans to present their rate analysis to city council late spring. Once that is done, the public will also be able to chime in.
No rate changes will happen until there is at least a 51% approval. Conversations also continue with state legislators to hopefully find a fast fix to the sewage problem.

In the meantime, the work continues to maintain the expected quality of life for Chicoans and their new neighbors.

“We want Paradise folks to know they are welcome in Chico, and hope they can find a bit of normalcy,” Gustafson emphasizes.

3 Responses to “City staff using Camp Fire to justify sewer rate increase”

  1. Jim February 1, 2019 at 9:04 am #

    Yes it’s a rip-off. As you point out the waste treatment is operating at little more than half capacity. Somehow we have plenty of capacity for new development, but not enough for our friends who lost homes in the fire. More total BS from the city.

    • Juanita Sumner February 1, 2019 at 1:04 pm #

      thanks Jim, you said it.

      Now you should put it in a letter to the editor of either or both papers. This is their campaign, and we need to push back. The cheapest, easiest way to fight these bogus revenue measures is a swift kick in the nuts right out of the gate.

Leave a Reply to Juanita Sumner Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: