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Public should voice opinion about service districts’ battle

Feather Publishing
5/11/2011

The recent decision by the East Quincy Service District to stop the consolidation process with the Quincy Community Service District is troubling to us on many levels.

Perhaps the most troubling thing is that ratepayers in the American Valley don’t seem to care what is going on.

Rarely are there more than two or three people at the respective board meetings. There have been no letters to the editor.

Instead of joining forces as one district and enjoying all the potential cost savings, streamlining and clout that come with it, we are still watching a grueling 16-year personality clash between the two boards.

The ongoing squabble is an embarrassment to our community.

LAFCo Executive Officer John Benoit said the decision to unravel the consolidation process “has never happened before in the state of California.”

It’s potentially expensive, too.

The districts have spent about $100,000 directly related to the consolidation. It likely will cost thousands more for lawyers to help sort out the mess.

There is no argument that the valley’s wastewater treatment plant, managed by the QCSD with the EQSD as its biggest customer, is nearing the end of its life cycle. We could soon need a new plant, or at least costly upgrades.

But instead of working together as a community to tackle the problem, the EQSD — citing “a lack of leadership” by the QCSD — wants to explore building its own treatment facility.

The board is considering a small pre-fabricated facility — a package plant — that could be expanded to service the entire valley if needed.

That forward thinking is commendable. However, we feel that not including the whole valley in the decision process is short-sighted.

The EQSD board claims it can build its own plant for much less than it will cost to upgrade the aging QCSD treatment facility. The board says it can save its customers money by not paying rent to QCSD.

Making those assumptions before conducting a thorough project study seems irresponsible.

Ratepayers on both sides could be left with a bag of bills.

Even if the EQSD could save half the valley a little money, the bill for customers on the west side of Cemetery Hill would rise. Without fees from EQSD customers, QCSD ratepayers would have to make up the difference.

The cold war between the two districts’ boards makes the hill dividing this town feel like the Berlin Wall.

It is a shame that a small community like ours can’t seem to set aside its differences, forget the past and plan for the future together.

Maybe the solution is to put this consolidation problem in the hands of a mediator.

One thing is certain: We have a lot better chance of cleaning up the valley with the whole valley working together.

We encourage you to contact one of the 10 board members and tell them how you feel.

They are: James Bequette, Richard Castaldini, Denny Churchill, Ernie Eaton, Steve Grant, Howard Hughes, Ruth Jackson, Kim Kraul, Greg Margason and William Peay.

 


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