I got to the Board Room at 4:30pm and the parking lot was filling up and I parked on the street. When the meeting started at 5pm it was a full house, every seat was filled and the people were lined outside the door and people were standing in rows near on the sides. At least 150 members of the public were in attendance, several tv crews (KFMB, KUSI & FOX that I saw) and we all echoed the pledge of the allegiance to the flag together. I was hopeful and optimistic that the meeting was going to go well...oh how wrong I was.
The Helix Staff gave a presentation on the water rate process and it went on for about 50 minutes, and the crowd was getting restless, they wanted their opportunity to speak. Helix had another presentation by the company who did the cost of service study, which took another 20 or so minutes. Helix was going to have another presentation by the District BBK legal counsel but that was postponed due to the anxious crowd (thank goodness)! So, finally sometime after 6:15pm the "Public Hearing" began and it was not pretty. Many, many issues and concerns of the 5-Year water rate plan were brought up by the public. Over 45 speakers turned in a slip to speak and they all opposed the plan - not one person stood up and applauded the District/Board for the proposal or supported the plan.
Probably sometime after 8pm after all the speakers we (the Board) started discussion. It started with Joel opening comments and making a motion to move that we go to a two year rate plan. I seconded the motion. Too much uncertainty to secure a 5 year plan, that the public wants a voice in the process and know about the rates before adopted - not after the fact. The voted died 3 NO (DeAna Verbeke, John Linden, Chuck Muse) to 2 YES (Joel Scalzitti, Kathleen Hedberg).
Then the vote came up to adopt the 5 year plan. But before the vote, Chuck Muse decided to read an excerpt from the book a Perfect Board, by Calvin Clemmons, www.ThePerfectBoard.com, on Unity. He first had referenced the Helix Board Meeting on August 5th, where as that was the decision to put the proposed rate plan forward for the public hearing, which at that time the vote was split, 3 YES (DeAna Verbeke, John Linden, Chuck Muse) to 2 NO (Joel Scalzitti, Kathleen Hedberg). His excerpt was on the chapter regarding Unity such that "...when a decision is made or action taken, all of the Directors are obligated to support the decision." I stated at the meeting that he was out of order and get to Helix Water District business! Mind you this book is most relevant to private businesses, shareholders and not government agencies. President DeAna Verbeke allowed him to continue and then Chuck Muse then proceeded to refer to the binder of VALID Protest letters (see binder in picture above) saying that most of them are only signed protests and gathered by one individual. The public was furious. I stated that what he stated was a blatantly disregard to the public process - the PROP 218 process!
There were 551 VALID PROTESTS and they all have original signatures and addresses, some are typed, some are handwritten, some are from businesses, residents and home owner associations and government agencies! All delivered by hand or by mail. They are all VALID and should be respected as such.
The vote on the 5 year plan was then taken, 3 YES (DeAna Verbeke, John Linden, Chuck Muse) to 2 NO (Joel Scalzitti, Kathleen Hedberg). The public was outraged. Meeting ended around 9pm.
Here are some news clips of the meeting.
Small businesses worried about rising water prices
Helix water board approves 5-year rate hike
Helix water rate hike approved despite backlash
Helix Water District approves big rate hike
HELIX WATER CUSTOMERS CRY FOUL OVER FIVE YEAR RATE-HIKE PLAN
Hearing on proposed Helix water rate hikes
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Author: Kathleen Hedberg
Civil Engineer in 4th Term as a Helix Water District Board Director and Past President of the Board!