‘We are all watching’

After two hours in the last City Council meeting regarding Calistoga water rate hikes the following became very obvious. Councilmembers (Michael) Dunsford, (Gary) Kraus and (Irais) Lopez-Ortega don’t understand or want to understand the implications of their votes/positions.

Here’s a glimpse into reality in Calistoga. My 90 year old mother living in a Calistoga mobile home park receives $1,500 a month from Social Security. With another matching income from the rental of her former home in Southern California she struggles to make ends meet. One-third of Calistogans who live in mobile home parks are in similar positions with fixed incomes. In response to your water rate proposal, the park owner has notified her of an 11 percent increase to $2,250/month rent justifying it as a “utilities” increase. Another younger friend in Calistoga has been notified his “rent” will increase by 13 percent. One tenant family in his rental unit is being forced to leave and find less costly accommodations. And guess what? Your rules do not allow them to protest this rate hike that you propose. Business and resort owners, who can protest, don’t, because they just pass the rate increase on to their clients.

Another blow to low and middle income Calistogans is a state ruling that does away with the tier rate system for water charges. Who do you think this most affects? Visitors, who come here to vacation in hotels, resorts, restaurants and shops, or residents who conserve to keep their water at the lowest tier? As Councilmember (Jim) Barnes stated (paraphrased) this rate hike is a microcosm of America today. The wealthy benefit at the expense of the lower socioeconomic citizens.

You mentioned that this City Council has to face the water, roads, etc. infrastructure improvements needed here in town. You don’t want to “kick the can” any further down the road. Gee, I somehow remember a recent opportunity this City Council had to make incoming resort corporations shoulder the cost of such repairs. And now you say that they pay “their fair share”. BALONEY! It obviously was still very lucrative for them to go ahead with their projects that seriously impact Calistoga infrastructure. And guess who they would have passed increased fees on to? Out of town tourists who can afford to vacation here.

City Council still has the choice to change, or not, the water rates of all Calistogans. All Calistogans vote for your elected positions. Please represent the permanent residents on this issue, not just business interests and tourists. We are all watching.

Dennis C. Lang

Calistoga

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