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Guest Opinion: Moving Pleasanton's water system forward

Original post made on Nov 9, 2023

Nobody likes to pay more for water, but good business practices mean that we must sometimes take difficult steps to maintain our water system. Increasing rates must be part of the equation to fund vital improvements and be ready for...

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 9, 2023, 2:52 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by Sanjay
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Nov 9, 2023 at 4:38 pm

Sanjay is a registered user.

I have met no one who doesn’t want safe drinking water and disputes the need to raise funds to make the necessary investments. It is the numbers that confound us, not the narrative.

Here is a sample of questions many of us have raised.

1. Why aren’t we separating the funding needs for long-term capital investments (e.g., new pipes and pumps) and ongoing recurring operations expenses (e.g., hiring three employees) to match them to the funding sources and bill line items? Don't the ratepayers deserve to know how much of their bill payment goes for paying down the long-term investment versus the recurring expenses?

2. Isn’t the over $20 million capital investment the most prominent driver? Shouldn’t such expenses be capitalized and funded differently for a more gradual increase?

3. Why are the increases non-uniform and disproportionate? Why are they significantly higher for single-family residents, and the increase drops for extremely high users?

4. Why are fixed charges lowered when the city needs funds and is desperate to improve cash flow stability to improve debt financing viability?

5. Hasn’t the overall consumption decreased in recent years? By raising the volumetric rates significantly, aren’t you penalizing those single-family residents who conserved? How will you meet the budget if they reduce the usage further?

We don’t challenge the need for rate increases. We don’t understand the way it is done. Trusting the model behind the numbers is hard when no one can explain the counter-intuitive observations.

Agreed, water issues can be complicated, but the answers to the above needn't be.

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 9, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Gerry Beaudin:

It is not "good business" when you punish those people who have conserved water, with a higher rate fee versus those who have not conserved and used the water excessively, with a lower rate fee.

"Water users legally pay for their water system". The point is. It is just not equitable. Low-income earners who have conserved water will be responsible for the high-income earners for their excessive water use.

"We'll use an array of funding sources for our water supply and quality projects, not just rate income." What is that array of funding? That statement is what has been coming out of your office, no clarity, confusing statements, no focus, no plan. Why is it so difficult for you to spell it out?

The rate structure the three members of the council approved is in reverse order. They do not understand what you have done, and they approved it. You have complained about social media being misleading with their posts, you are just as misleading, more so, not transparent with your media posts, when you have the responsibility to be transparent. If you have a plan, where is it, what is it, and how will you proceed with it, how does it involve ratepayers?

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 9, 2023 at 7:17 pm

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

Someone needs to remind Mr. Beaudin that the City of Pleasanton is not a “business;” that he's not, in fact, a “CEO”; and that the residents of Pleasanton aren’t his “customers.” He’s a public servant who works for the people of Pleasanton.

Though I’ll admit—w/his repeated attempts at too-slick rhetoric; his insistence on THREE exorbitant pay raises in just 18 months—raises significantly larger than those received by other city staff members; his perks that include a city-provided car, an “executive coach” costing the city $70,000, a new deferred compensation package of $10,000 a year, and an assured 6 months of pay and benefits if the city ever chooses to end his contract—all of which he clearly feels he’s entitled to; his continued inability to hear residents telling him of the financial strain they are under due to increased costs; the self-serving press releases with cherry-picked statistics; the implication throughout this piece that his “leadership” is being unfairly criticized; and the lack of transparency about the potential lawsuit the city faces surrounding an employee being fired for retaliation because Mr. Beaudin wanted to suppress information that would make him look bad—well, all of that is pretty on-brand for many CEOs in America right now. Spot on!

Unfortunately, he is not a CEO. The City is not a Fortune 500 company. And the residents of Pleasanton are not his “customers.” But the fact that it’s clear he thinks in these terms—that's precisely the problem.

He doesn’t understand the job. And he doesn’t understand his role as a public servant. And the reason for my confidence in this assertion? Because Mr. Beaudin recently had the gall to call my workplace—to ask to speak to my boss—about the fact that I was making HIS job “harder.” I’m a resident of Pleasanton, and what I do on my personal time is none of my boss’ business or concern. The fact that he thinks making such a call is acceptable or appropriate behavior speaks volumes. THAT'S who he is.

Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Nov 9, 2023 at 8:23 pm

MsVic is a registered user.

Wow Dean, he called your boss? In what universe is that even ok. He fits right in with his boss who is a bully. And with other council members who are downright disrespectful to their fellow councils members. Watch the last meeting and see Julie Testa being completely out of line and rude to Jack Balch and then later Karla Brown doing exactly the same thing. I am disgusted with Testa, Brown and Beaudin. This opinion piece is nothing more than self serving propaganda.

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 10, 2023 at 9:21 am

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

@MsVic — he did! What he didn’t know at the time of his call was that, after almost 5 years of proudly serving in that role — serving the residents of the Assembly District where Mr. Beaudin, ironically, is also a resident — I had already notified my boss and team that my time of serving in that position was nearing its natural end point, and had given my two weeks' notice.

It was time for me to move on. I had served in that role working for the constituents of AD-14 through COVID and the challenging EDD debacle, where we were able to successfully get thousands of residents the support and benefits they deserved but had struggled to receive. And that was just a portion of the work that role required of me.

So, when he called my office, attempting to intimidate and complain about my community activism where I live and *HE* serves, I was already nearing the date that I had set to close that chapter of my life. I had already informed my boss, team, and the State Assembly that I would be moving on to take some time for myself, to reflect, and to figure out what I want to do next with my life.

Of course, Mr. Beaudin didn’t, and couldn’t have known any of that when he called to try and interfere with my employment by calling the boss I admire, respect, and have worked for five years. His call would never have had the ability to threaten my employment — because I had her trust and respect, and always served in my role as a public servant with respect for the job, and dignity to all the constituents we served. If someone called our office to complain, I knew my job was to figure out how to help them and try to do my job better. I knew what my role was — which is more than Mr. Beaudin can currently claim for himself.

But you know one more thing? Had I ever called a constituent's workplace to complain about them making my job more difficult, I have no doubt it would have jeopardized my position. And I would have deserved it for doing something so senseless and unacceptable.

Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Nov 14, 2023 at 5:52 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

The well design Mr. Beaudin speaks of has already begun at Zone 7. Conceptual plans were detailed at the September 20, 2023 Zone 7 board meeting. There has been little mention from the city manager's office about the proposal from Zone 7 working collaboratively with Pleasanton, which would be advantageous to both agencies and ratepayers. Web Link What the city continues to present as a $30 million short-term requirement to keep a reliable supply of water fails to address the work already underway at Zone 7. Pleasanton has not responded to Zone 7's outreach with this proposal, which would reduce capital costs to $8 million from the $30 million we are being warned about.
Neither rocket science nor engineering credentials are required to recognize collaboration with Zone 7 is a no-brainer, and should be welcomed with open arms and a sincere expression of gratitude.
It was clear from council member Testa's query during the October council meeting as to whether it would be 4 wells or 2 that she at least hadn't read the presentation, which explains it in great detail.
Don't council members know about this important proposal? Why wasn't it clearer for ratepayers at the October meeting? Why does city hall only talk about floating a huge bond or increasing local taxes to make up the shortfall? Where is transparency and sensibility in all this?
The rate calculator was supposed to satisfy ratepayers. Did it? Judging from how many showed up on Nov 7 despite obstacles (fire marshalls at the door preventing people from entering, zoom comments curtailed, and a verbal threat by the mayor herself) to offer sound suggestions and solutions the council majority soundly rejected. No it didn't.
Council must direct staff to begin working with Zone 7 to commence with the project ASAP, with a strong recommendation that council approve it post haste. Let's get this show on the road!

Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Nov 14, 2023 at 6:30 pm

MsVic is a registered user.

Keeknlinda, this is such important information! Zone 7 has sent a proposal to Pleasanton to join forces in the new wells at a hugely reduced cost to Pleasanton, yet Pleasanton doesn’t even respond. Who is responsible for this? The mayor must accept responsibility for failure to act on behalf of our city and participate with Zone 7. Maybe no one from zone 7 is contributing to her re-election campaign.

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