TUD change of rate plans welcomed

By Union Democrat staff December 21, 2011 05:27 am
    We cautiously applaud Tuolumne Utilities District General Manager Pete Kampa and his staff for doing the right thing and re-examining a proposed water rate hike. The original proposal is harmful to local residents and the rates and timing are far too aggressive in this sluggish economy.
    At the 11th hour, Kampa, who is up for a contract renewal, on Monday pulled the rate hike request from the board’s Tuesday agenda, saying he and his staff will go back to the drawing board to draft a less-severe plan.
       It’s rewarding to see TUD’s acknowledgment of the public outcry at the recent public hearing and the 945 written responses urging a “NO” vote. “Staff believes the board found the public input on the proposed rate plan compelling,” Kampa stated in the memo.
    The old proposal would have jacked rates 34 to 50 percent over three years, with the biggest share of that jump starting in January. The district says the money is needed to fill a $2 million budget gap.
    According to district officials, TUD will look at a combination of some staff pay freezes, delayed spending and a more-modest rate increase.
    The devil will be in the details, but, at least for now, we’re encouraged that a more reasonable plan is in the works. We’re hopeful that TUD’s new proposal reflects a sense of fairness and accountability to the community and all ratepayers.