11/5/2012 AWA Budget/Finance Committee Meeting Minutes

  • AWA “Adjustments” Reveal How Ratepayers Subsidize Growth

    At the AWA Budget Finance committee meeting on November 5th, financial documents provided to the committee detailed how ratepayers have been subsidizing projects for development. The documents showed that fees collected from developers to reimburse ratepayers for existing infrastructure were instead used to pay for developer projects. The Amador Transmission Line (ATL) is one example that was discussed at the meeting.

    AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo and AWA Controller Marvin Davis claimed that it was the previous AWA Controller, Ann Barre and financial services manager Mike Lee who combined the funds. Mancebo did not disclose whether or not Jim Abercrombie, who was AWA general manager at the time, directed Lee and Barre to combine the funds.

    Combining the funds is illegal. Government code 66013 prohibits commingling of the restricted fees with any other funds. Combining the funds made AWA lose track of where ratepayer funds were being spent. As a result, ratepayers paid millions more than their fair share of capital projects. Also, fees collected to reimburse ratepayers for infrastructure they already funded with rates were used on projects like the ATL.

    The recent documents show a clear and systematic policy of maximizing the costs to ratepayers, while minimizing the cost to real estate development. The current Board has continued that policy by spending $1 million on a scheme to trick ratepayers into approving the $20 million Gravity Supply Line (GSL) project.

    Another B&F meeting is planned at which AWA staff will attempt to demonstrate that, despite sloppy record keeping, all of the connection fees have been accounted for. At a subsequent Board meeting, the current Directors will have to decide whether to continue making costs as high as possible for ratepayers.