I am concerned about a flyer recently put out by Steve Rogers, a candidate for VOMWD Water Board. I am currently President of that Board and would like to set the record right. Steve, in his flyer states that the Board “voted a massive raise” in salaries “without independent review”. The last part of the statement is true. We did the review in house, but it wasn’t only the GM, it was also myself and Vice President Henevelt, who performed the review, to save the district $10,000 in consultant fees.
We found that our people were making about 8-10% less than similar water districts. The primary reason for the raise was due to losing 60% of our new hires over the previous 36 months. Staff would hire on, receive their training and accreditations and move on to better paying districts. I’m not sure where Steve came up with 22.8% increase; the total average of all the raises for those employed by the district was in the 9% range, including benefits and retirement. We have lost no personnel since. Our current group of employees is some of the best we ever had. Thanks to the proficiency of our crew, we no longer contract out our water main replacements, which saves the District tens of thousands of dollars a year.
He also states, correctly, about the change in rate structures that resulted in 92% of ratepayers paying more. I am one of those low water use ratepayers. What Steve failed to mention is that we were being sued by those high water users in a case similar to the one in San Juan Capistrano, where a recent court decision by the California Court of Appeal, District 4, Division 3 ruling that arbitrary tiered water rates violated California Constitution.
As I have stated publicly before, we were handcuffed and had no choice but to change our rate structure, a choice that was made for us by our rate consultants and our lawyers, or else potentially lose the right to sell water. The case was dropped after the change. I can personally attest to the turmoil in making this unwanted decision. I would like to add that VOMWD rates are still among the lowest 20% in the State, and that we currently pay about half as much as our neighbors in the City of Sonoma. We are very proud of our accomplishments and I stand by the decisions made by the Board.
– Jon L. Foreman, Sonoma