Pinole’s Waste Water Rates

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The following Comment and information was submitted by Mr. Tony Gutierrez, Pinole resident.
This forum is an opportunity for members of the public to respectfully voice their opinions and comments.
Mr. Gutierrez has expressed concerns relative to the current and future sewer rates for Pinole residents.
Although the majority of Pinole residents are serviced by Pinole’s sewer system, there is a portion of Pinole that is serviced by the West County Waste Water District.
The City of Pinole published a report in 2013 outlining the Sewer Rates.
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“While visiting my retired aunt, who lives in Tara Hills, she was lamenting that her Sewer Rates were going up. She sad this year she will be paying $381 a year to the West County Wastewater District.

I will pay $681 this year living in Pinole Valley. This is a $300 per year difference. And by July 2017, Pinole Valley rates will rise to $750 annually.
At the April 14th Town Hall Meeting I questioned our City Manager whether or not she received 50% of her entire compensation package from the Sewer Fund in 2013/2014?
Ms. Espinosa responded, “She did not.”
I then asked, “What about the previous fiscal year?”
City attorney Ben Reyes intervened and told me, “That I was not allowed to cross-examine the City Manager.”
I just moved on to my next question.
Just three days later on the 17th, I once again asked the same questions at the Pinole/Hercules Wastewater Subcommittee meeting in reference to Item 8 on the agenda. This time Ms. Espinosa had recovered from her temporary amnesia.

During the last two fiscal years the City Manager’s Compensation has come out of the following funds;
General Fund: 24%, Redevelopment Administrative Fund: 26%, and the Sewer Fund: 50%.

In other words, for the last two fiscal years approximately $115 thousand of the City Manager’s Compensation package came out of the Sewer Fund.

The good news is that for the last two fiscal years the City of Hercules has been paying for 25% of Pinole’s City Manager’s Total Compensation Package, approximately $57,500.

For the upcoming Fiscal year starting on July 1st, Hercules will no longer pay any of our City Manager’s Total Compensation Package.
Well the reason why Hercules is not paying anymore is that they did to feel that it was justified for the City of Pinole to bill the City of Hercules for 25% of our City Manager’s Total Compensation Package for the last two years.

Question:
Since we have control and mange our own Sewer Plant why do Citizens of Pinole who live in Pinole Valley pay 78% higher sewer rates for a single family residence than our brethren who live in Tara Hills that use the West County Sewer District?”

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Summer Musings

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Hello everyone:

Summer time and the living is easy….Image

It has been a little over three weeks since my last post.
Those three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.
My husband, Mike, and I celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary, yes I am that old.
My grandson, Kyle, graduated from High School.
My granddaughter, Rachel, qualified for a Weight Lifting Competition in Daytona Florida.
We started a small vegetable garden, Mike has the green thumb, me, well, not so much.
The small but very powerful gifts of life.

Community news:

The Pinole Swim Center on Simas Avenue is open. Time to jump in and cool off in our beautiful neighborhood pool.

The SK8 Park has gotten one significant step closer to becoming a reality.

The Tower Topplers are monitoring the City’s actions. The City and Verizon have entered into a tolling agreement which will effectively put any legal action on hold until after the November election.

The City is moving ahead with a ballot measure for an increase to the sales tax.
This measure will appear on the November ballot raising Pinole’s sales tax to 9.5%.
Critics claim this is simply a way to increase the city’s coffers for needs that are not related Public Safety needs. However, the City has negotiated a new contract with the Police and we expect that they are also in negotiations with the Fire Department. Given the not so friendly tone of recent negotiations it is hard to gauge just how this is going.

The City lost its appeal to retrieve over $13 million dollars in Redevelopment funds.
At the June 3 Council meeting, by a vote of 5-0, in closed session, the Council voted to not appeal the decision and to settle for the 19% the State does not dispute.
The 19% represents roughly $2.3 million dollars. It’s not the whole enchilada but it surely isn’t a poke in the eye.
A portion of those funds will go to the schools, parks and other entities.
The balance will go towards the City General Fund.

And then there’s the politics in Pinole.
The election grows near, run for the hills.
This year the City Council will have three seats available.
The incumbents are Tim Banuelos, Debbie Long and Phil Green.
There has been some political grandstanding already. None more obvious than the dialogue the council entered into during the SK8 Park discussion.
It all started when Council member Green stated that the funds for the SK8 Park had been available but had been siphoned off for other things.
The SK8 Park proponents were subjected to a not so fine example of political gamesmanship while council members Murray and Swearingen traded barbs with Green for 20 minutes.
Council member Long finally put an end to the shenanigans much to the relief of those in attendance.
This is simply the start of what is shaping up to be a nasty campaign to unseat Green and retain Banuelos and Long.
The burning question is, who will Jeff Rubin and the CCOP run against Green?
The early odds are on Mrs. Rubin and a dark horse entry being mentioned is Mary Horton.
I’m sure we will all be thoroughly entertained by what has become a running joke in parts of West County, Pinole politics.

See you around town.