There are many reasons we all choose to live in Idyllwild. Perhaps the best reason of all is the sense of community and family we share. Lately, the Idyllwild Water District is challenging that caring attitude.
We realize there is a group of citizens who feel that as long as they get their water, everyone else doesn’t matter. Those who have been paying taxes and standby fees for very long or short times on vacant parcels have seen their investment reduced drastically by a district that has no formal engineering studies to substantiate its claim we haven’t enough water.
Most Idyllwild people we know feel we are all in this California drought together. Whether it is a stage 2, 3 or 10, we will get through it together. While the laws may allow owners to irrigate non-native lawns and gardens, other property owners can’t get a meter to allow their investment to again realize full value. Currently, another speed bump to giving owners a meter is requiring approved county building plans.
Many owners never build even if they have a meter. However, their investment may be a primary source of their personal nest egg. Whether they choose to build, to sell or to leave it to their children, they shouldn’t be deprived of the right to realize their parcel’s full value.
IWD has a manager who makes over $100,000 a year. A financial officer, that none of the other districts here have, makes a tidy sum. The board members make $100 per public and other meetings. That’s $500 per get-together that citizens are paying. Other districts get $50 per meeting.
Further, at this moment, IWD is not actively pursuing seeking more water it claims we haven’t enough of. Instead, IWD just approved buying an expensive new backhoe.
When asked how many hours a year they use a backhoe, the general manager couldn’t give a straight answer. Said it varies. We already have two that can be repaired. We can rent a newer one on an as-needed basis and use the savings to improve existing wells, and seek and drill new ones.
After Steve Kunkle, a previous IWD employee, was elected to the board by a landslide, he is now running into nonstop resistance to his inquiries regarding district matters. There are two new board members out of five and the votes are generally 3-2 against the new members “we the people” elected. He has recently been uninvited to closed meetings. They will not explain why.
We are a family and we have a district that is bullying the town by acting as a greater force than what was intended. It is time we replaced the rest of the board and the administration if they cannot realize what their role is.
No one is God and can tell when the drought will end.Yet we have done an amazing job of conserving our resources and when queried, the district doesn’t seem to know our capacity, only what they sell.
They have essentially put the new homebuilders on a path of going out of business. They are obstructing our new community center.
They are out of line. Most in the know believe we have adequate reserves. Further, if there were to come a time to conserve even more, we would do it as a family, as a community, not at the hands of a tyrannical board who haven’t the expertise nor information to back up its antics.
When a petition comes around, ask yourself how you would feel if you were the victim of this outrage. Plus, we haven’t even addressed the overcharging of neighbors who have built and are forced to pay more than $80 a month for a larger commercial-type meter to handle required interior sprinklers that likely save water in a fire. They use the same amount of water as their neighbors yet pay more in perpetuity.
We appreciate you reading this. Let our consciences be our guides.
Steve R. Moulton