Union Democrat staff

TUD increases and

land acquisitions

To the Editor:

I believe the Tuolumne Utilities District has failed in its fiduciary duty to the rate payers. Currently it has a budget deficit of more than $3.5 million. It is now asking for a 63 percent base rate increase on top of the increases of 2007 and 2009. They have spent millions of dollars on consultants and land acquisitions in the recent past. In 2006, the district purchased 140 acres in the Jamestown area for $1.1 million. In 2007, TUD purchased the Sierra Pines Golf Course for $845,000. In 2007 alone, TUD's assets increased by $4 million to over $53 million. In addition to these land purchases, TUD is increasing salaries and benefits for its employees. And now even with this deficit, the district is seriously considering the purchase of the Tuolumne City Sanitary District which is in financial trouble. This profligate spending is unreasonable and unsustainable by the rate payers.

Randy Meyer


TUD rate

increase explanation

To the Editor:

On Friday, Nov. 18, the Union Democrat published an article entitled, "TUD explains rate hike plan." TUD's explanation was inadequate.

The customers of TUD deserve a more detailed explanation in four parts as follows:

1. (a) How much are the revenues from the water operations? (b) How much are the costs to produce and deliver the water?

2. (a) How much are the revenues from sewer service charges? (b) How much does it cost to collect and process wastewater?

3. Does TUD use water revenue to support the sewer system or vise-versa? If one system supports the other the money should be paid back. Customers who use water only should not be gouged for sewer service. This is very important to your ratepayers and should not be overlooked.

4. A list of items, ideas and proposals for reducing expenses. For example, if a policy calls for something to be maintained once every six months could it be changed to once every eight months?

The prevailing wage schedule for contract work in our area was dictated by costs in San Francisco. If the district could join with Tuolumne County and other foothill counties and districts in an application to establish a more realistic wage schedule for our area the cost of new construction projects could be dramatically lowered.

While big savings on big items would be most welcome, the list of potential savings on numerous small items should be seriously pursued because it is our money that is being spent.

TUD should provide the public with a detailed list of every possible savings you can think of so that the ratepayers will be impressed with your sincerity and dedication to frugality.

David Gayle


TUD's 34 percent increase

To the Editor:

My outrage over TUD's impending 34 percent increase compels me to voice my disapproval. The question begs to be asked, how can a company be so out of touch with the reality of the hard economic times we are all experiencing? How can they actually ask for and expect a 34 percent rate increase when seniors on fixed incomes and struggling working class people are doing whatever they can just to get by.

Surely there are other ways for TUD to limp along. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come up with other, temporary solutions. For example, postpone any and all future studies and upgrades until the economy turns around. How about furloughs? It is an unpleasant choice, however, I am sure that TUD employees would rather see a slight reduction in pay than no pay at all.

Donating to charities is something we all do, however, not at the expense of someone else's pocketbook. Offering a discount on rates for Habitat for Humanity is a very generous offer. But not when TUD expects the public to off-set the revenue loss. Such generosity should be displayed only when surplus funds are available and not when asking for a 34 percent rate increase.

Let's take a step back and have a reality check TUD. Consider other ways to get by without asking for and expecting a 34 percent rate increase. Whatever regulations TUD must abide by will have to be relaxed a little until the economy turns around. Nothing is etched in stone.

Frances Boricchio