SAN DIEGO -- The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is collecting excess funds from Southern California water ratepayers at the rate of about $707,000 a day, according to new data posted at www.mwdfacts.com.
The San Diego County Water Authority posted the real-time data counter online to help water ratepayers easily access information about MWD’s excess revenue collection and to see the impact on their water agency or city. Residents in MWD’s 5,200-square-mile service area can use a pull-down menu to see how much their water agency or city is being overcharged by MWD and alert their elected officials. The Water Authority is one of MWD’s 26 member agencies. MWD serves more than half of California’s population, and its service area has an economy with an annual gross domestic product greater than $1 trillion.
“As cities across Southern California struggle with fiscal challenges that force them to make tough choices between keeping police on the street, libraries open or parks maintained, Metropolitan is stockpiling cash by overcharging its ratepayers and proposing to spend all of it on unbudgeted expenses,” said Thomas V. Wornham, Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “The public should ask their representatives at Metropolitan to put a stop to it.”
MWD’s own financial documents show that the agency is on pace to amass cash reserves of $800 million – an amount that will reach $320 million above its board-adopted maximum reserve limit – by the end of June 2014. This figure includes $62 million in excess revenue that was carried over from MWD’s previous fiscal year. The over-collection data for each MWD member agency was calculated using MWD’s own records for its member agencies’ payments of rates and charges between July 2012 and June 2013.
Despite this over-collection, MWD is again proposing to raise rates and property taxes in 2015 and 2016, which will likely result in millions more excess revenue. If MWD’s board takes action to increase its property tax collections, it will collect an estimated $75 million more in property taxes over the next two years. MWD is holding public hearings on proposed rate and property tax increases at noon March 11 at its downtown Los Angeles headquarters, and the agency plans to adopt rate and tax increases at its April 8 meeting.
“Now, on top of collecting $320 million more than it needs, Metropolitan is proposing to raise rates and property taxes so it can collect hundreds of millions more from ratepayers throughout Southern California than it needs,” said Wornham. “We need to stand together and demand accountability and rate relief from Metropolitan.”
More information about MWD’s proposals to increase rates and property taxes can be found at Budget and Rate Workshop #2 - Feb. 25, 2014.
The Water Authority launched www.mwdfacts.com two years ago to provide the public with greater information and transparency into the powerful and secretive Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The website was featured in an April 2012 front page story “Fees and Anger Rise in California Water War” in The New York Times.