The Rancho Santa Fe Post

SFID Manager Refuses to Use District’s Mailing List to Notify Residents of Specific Rate Increases

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At the April RSF Association Board meeting, Mike Bardin, General Manager of the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) explained to the Board the next steps in the SFID’s proposed water rate increase process.

“We haven’t raised rates in three years and we currently have the lowest rates in San Diego County,” Bardin said. “This causes me some concern as the cost of business has gone up. It is critical now for us to raise our rates.”

Not everyone’s rates will increase, Bardin said, but rates will increase depending on usage and the customer’s meter size.

“[Each customer] will receive an 8-page document explaining what is being proposed, the process, and how they can participate” Bardin explained.

The SFID is proposing a 9% rate increase for each fiscal year in 2016, 2017, and 2018, but some residents with large lots could face rate increases over 20% per year. These customers could ultimately see rates increase by more than 75% once the rate increases complete in 2018; a possibility that was not explicitly mentioned in the SFID’s 8-page mailer.

Bardin was asked if the SFID would allow use of its mailing list to send out a more detailed breakdown of the proposed rate increases including additional information for large property owners, combined with a written protest form so residents could easily voice their dissent.

Surprisingly, Bardin answered no. “We’ve mailed out the legally required notice that explains it,” said Bardin. “There will be no separate mailing, this [the 8-page mailer] is the mailing we are doing. ”

RSF Resident Lisa Bartlett followed up: “But, if the money was found to do a [separate] mailing, the SFID would not do a mailing with their address list so that people had the opportunity to sign a [protest] form and send it in?”

“The answer is no,” Bardin concluded.

If the SFID receives 3,253 written protest forms by the close the the May 19 public hearing, the District will return to the drawing board to discuss a different rate plan.

In the meantime, there will be two more community forums ahead of the May 19 public hearing when the proposed water rate increases will be voted on by the SFID Board.

The next community hearings will be held on April 20, and April 26.