I am a new resident and recently attended the Pine Cove Water District public hearing on rate hikes.
To give a little history, residents were notified by mail that they were proposing rate hikes and were given a schedule of increases over a five-year period. The explanation was that maintenance was needed on the equipment. At the bottom of the letter was a form to respond if the homeowner opposed the rate hikes.
I opposed it because so little information was given as to how the money would be spent and I needed to learn more. The letter also mentioned that a public hearing would be held (at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday, which meant those who worked would not be able to attend).
I took time off work to attend the public hearing to get more information. I have attended numerous public meetings in the past at my previous home, mostly dealing with development and code enforcement, so I knew how they would be conducted. The public asks questions or make suggestions, their concerns are heard and discussed, and responses are given by authorities. Often a compromise is offered and another public meeting or two is then scheduled to hash out the details and come up with a final solution acceptable to the public.
Unfortunately, it was quite clear that the PCWD hearing was unlike any other hearing I ever attended. As people voiced their concerns and asked specific questions, they received a “thank you” and the board went to the next question. No questions were answered: not, “Where will the money be spent?,” not, “Can we compromise?,” not, “Can we see a budget?,” not even, “Will the employees and the board receive a raise?”
I am assuming their lawyer advised them not to answer questions. What is the purpose of a public meeting if no information is given?
As soon as the public portion of the meeting was concluded, the board immediately passed the rate-hike resolution, without any discussion of the questions asked by the public. And, because they are their own entity with no oversight by any government agency, there is no recourse to challenge their decision.
I must say that I am very discouraged with our water district and this will be reflected in my vote the next time the board is up for election.