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May 30, 2013     Beverly Hills Weekly
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May 30, 2013
 

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Water rates to rise by five percent The Beverly Hills. City Council voted 4-1 to accept an ad hoc committee's rec- ommendation to raise the water rates [his year by five percent, down from the ear- lier decision to raise them by seven per- cent, at the formal meeting on Thursday night. Mayor John Mirisch dissented. "The [Metropolitan Water District] rates are less than 40 percent of our over- all costs, so if we were just passing along the five percent MWD rate increase to the residents, it should be no more than a two percent increase and that's what 1 would have supported for this year," said Mirisch. Mirisch said the rate was still being increased, but by a reduced amount. According to City Manager Jeff Kolin, in the last six years, the city has had an eight percent increase followed by an eight, 15, 15, seven, and seven percent rate increase for a total of 60. MWD has raised its rates by 15, 21; six, 6.7, 6.7, and a five percent increase in the same period for a total of 58.5 percent. All councilmembers supported placing the $2.5 million previously set aside from last year's $10.2 million surplus to be placed in the stormwater fund. "These rate increases are not just the cost of water we get from MWD, but also the fact that we have our own system here that we need to run, maintain and manage, our own water lines, our wells, our water treatment plant, the bonded indebtedness of the water treatment plant as well as our reservoir system and these are all things we've decided we want in the city to protect the city in the long-term and as a result there's a real cost to that," said Councilnember Willie Brien. Water usage, cost of water, infrastruc- ture maintenance and cost of operations all contribute to the cost of the water rates, according to the staff report. The more successful the City is in pro- moting water conservation the more each unit of water costs the customers. Gold said the combination of fixed costs in the form of infrastructure main- tenance and the variable costs, such as the price of water had led the council to approve the seven percent rate increase initially. However, in the last year, the City had not conserved as much water and as a result, the amount of revenue was $2.9 million, which can be used to offset to reduce the rate increase tofive percent. When the budget documents return, the council will vote on a resolution approv- ing the rates. City council may decide to launch an independent study on AT&T installation The City Council heard a staff presen- tation on Thursday night regarding an agreement approved" by the council on April ! 1 with AT&T that would install up to 76 nodes in the City, increasing cell coverage for f-n-st responders. "A couple of weeks ago, I watched you stand by a decision that had been made Board of Education tables bond acceleration; to return June 25 The Board of Education tabled a reso- lution on Tuesday night that would have accelerated the Measure E bond schedule, increasingthe property tax rate for resi- dents and breaking the promise made to voters in 2008. . Board of Education President Jake Manaster said the Board was tabling the item to hold town meetings in order to involve the community. "I'm coming tonight to implore you not to raise the community's taxes by accel- erating Measure E," said former Board member Myra Lurie, who was one of the lead organizers of the Measure E cam- paign. "To do so is to violate an expressed and explicit promise. It would seriously harm the community's trust in you and it will seriously damage any chance of your getting a parcel tax passed." Several members of the community addressed the board during the public I comment portion of the meeting to voice concerns about accelerating the bond and to thank the Board for allowing the town hall meetings. Board of Education member Lisa Korbatov arrived late. Lurie said she had heard the Board criticize "the MTA for "bait-and-switch" tactics. "I believe that bait and switch is exactly what this board would do if it did acceler- ate the bond," said Lurie. "The very cor- nerstone of our campaign was an explicit promise that the bond would not raise the tax rate." Former Mayor Robert K. Tanenbaum said he had been a supporter of Measure E when the measure was put before the voters in 2008. "Our credibility is critical, so the notion that we honor the promises that we made are part of that equation for credibility," said Tanenbaum, who also thanked the board for the proposed meetings. Tanenbaum said the people needed to be a part of the process as they were when the measure was approved. Hawthorne parent Isabel Hacker thanked the Board for considering the concerns of Category Administration Architects Attorneys Construction Geotechnical MEPC Miscellaneous Total Per COC - Measure E Spending to 12/31/2012 $5,256,394 $7,017,342 $5,768,067 $2,421,833 $768,515 $2,058,606 $308,847 $23,599,604 Percentage 22.3% 29.7% 24.4% 10.3% 3.3% 8.7% 1.3% 100.0% Source: Damien Bean, Patch.com the community and presenting the idea of town hall meetings. "I believe that communication involves developing a clear message and sending the message, interpreting the message and most importantly receiving feedback," said Hacker. "There has been an absence of this process and I believe that going for- ward with these town hall meetings now and taking feedback from the community as it relates to accelerating the bond will hopefully make your case for your wish to accelerate." Hacker is rumored to be considering a run for the Board of Education in November. Under the current issuance plan which allows for the voter-approved tax rate of $49.71 per $100,000 in assessed value, the full $334-million approved by Measure E, would not bereleased until 2037 and the rest of the bond would be issued entirely as capital appreciation bonds (CABS), which allow school districts to defer interest until their maturity at a higher rate. Legislation imposing restrictions on cap- ital appreciation bonds are currently being discussed in the state legislature, which would limit the maximum maturity of a bond from 40 years to 25 years and reduce the maximum interest rate on a bond from 12 percent to eight percent. CAB usage would require public analysis and would require a maximum debt repayment ratio of four to one. The State Assembly passed the bill unan- imously in April. The bill will go to the State Senate and if passed and signed by the governor, changes will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2014. Current interest bonds pay interest semi- annually and at a lower rate. If the bond is accelerated and the legisla- tion is passed, the bonds would be issued as approximately 50 'percent current interest bonds and 50 percent capital appreciation bonds. Under the max:maum tax rate legally allowed under proposition 39, proper- ty owners would initially pay $111 per $100,000 eventually decreasing slowly in increments until about 2031 when the rate would level off at $60 per $100,000 until it is paid off, accord!ng to an attachment to the agenda. Whether the district accelerates the Measure E bond or not, the district may still issue $25 million in bond sales in 2013. Every school district that expects to issue bonds during the fiscal year.of 2013 to 2014 and require estimated debt ser- vice payments between July 1, 2013, and December 31, 2014, is required to provide the County of Los Angeles a notice of intent to issue such bonds by June 30, 2013. According to Superintendent Gary Woods, the district plans on organizing three town hall meetings at the various school sites prior to June 20. The item will return for discussion on June 25. by the Planning Commission because' it had gone through the proper process. We had found that important, so shouldn't the same thing apply to the council?" said Pam Meadow, who called revisiting the issue a delay. On May 11, Municipal League Chairman Thomas White, Southwest Homeowner's AssociatiOn President Ken Goldman, Marilyn Gallup, former Mayor Chuck Aronberg and realtor Michael Libow approached the council with con- cerns about safety and concerns that an independent analysis by the City had not been done. White called the presentation from Thursday night a "regurgitation from staff." "We asked that the council take an independent unbiased look at this with a completely disinterested party, an expert in communications and the environment a.nd we're back here already," said White. "We have no such expert that's been engaged and instead of getting answers on that level of expertise, which I think the community is entitled, we have a regurgitation by staff of the same infor- mation purporting to answer the questions which were posed," said White. Twelve speakers addressed the council with eight speaking in ;favor of the agree- ment and four speaking against. The agreement has already been exe- cuted. Some speakers felt there had been a lack of process by revisiting the issue. "We should have finality in our con- cept. What does the finality mean when our city council votes five to nothing, unanimously? That should be the end to it," said Eli Blumenfeld. "We have a system to protect. That is the finality and respect for the process." Vice Mayor Lili Bosse said she was offended by anyone who suggested it was an "us and them" in the room. Bosse said she felt everyone cared about public safety of residents and schools. "When any resident comes before us and feels that we haven't done our due diligence and there'sstill questions that need to be answered, I feel it is my responsibility as a councilmember to pro- vide those answers," said Bosse. "I will guarantee you that when I walk down this street in this city on any isstie, you Will know that I've done my homework and can back it up with inform~ition." All councilmembers agreed with con- tinuing the contract. Councilmember Nancy Krasne said she would like the architectural commission to look at the landscaping around the cabinets, which will house the nodes. Councilmember Julian Gold said his briefs cont. on page 4 May 30- June 5, 2013 Page 3