default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Dave Wellenbrock: Why I plan to protest Lodi’s proposed rate hikes

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 12:00 am

Today, the post office delivered a letter from the Lodi City Council announcing proposed rate hikes for water, wastewater and solid waste for residents of Lodi.

The proposed rate hikes are modest, basically limited to the cost of living increases over the next five years. The announcement consisted of a two-page letter and two pages of rate tables.

Normally, I do not protest these sorts of rate increases; inflation has its way with us.

But this announcement has convinced me to protest the rate increase. The announcement is, to me, insulting. It simply does not provide enough information from which any voter could make a reasonable decision. Specifically:

1. There are no facts justifying even asking for a rate increase. The sole justification is in the third to last paragraph: “The rate increases are being proposed in order to provide funding for system improvements, operations and maintenance, and administrative expenses ... and provide funding to meet inflationary costs of operating the utilities for the next five years.”

This is a conclusion. This is the city council saying, we need the money and do not have to tell you why.

A number of questions were raised in my mind: What system improvements are to be funded? No idea. There is no mention of any pay increase for the regular workers; why not? If everything is going up, isn’t it for them also? And maybe most tricky, the rate hike is to pay for inflationary costs and to also pay for improvements. This implies that productivity is going up. Is it? How much? And if productivity is going up, why doesn’t that cover inflation?

Interestingly, the request expects increased administrative costs. Why are they going up? And what are those costs?

2. The hearing to be held on this is the same day as the vote. That is like having a presidential election without knowing very much about the candidates, going to hear them debate, and then voting as you leave the hall. There is no provision for thinking about what transpires at the hearing. No time to check out claims made at the hearing. Listen and vote.

To make an extreme comparison, it is what Robert Mugabe did in Zimbabwe: Suddenly announce an election to be held in the very short term. He won even though most of the people were against him, because he had all the media and his election machine had been fine-tuned. The opposition did not have time to mount a real opposition campaign.

3. Philosophically, this bothers me. This process, while apparently complying with the letter of the law, does not comply with the spirit of the law. This is not very transparent. Our elected and appointed officials should want us to have all the information necessary to make a reasonable vote on issues such as this. That has not happened here.

I want to know more before I approve raises such as this: What improvements will be funded? Will the workers get raises at least equivalent to the cost-of-living? What are the administrative costs and are they under control?

So I will protest these rate increases.

Dave Wellenbrock is a Lodi resident and semi-retired attorney.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 9 hours ago by Angie McDaniel.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Nice spin attempt there Mike. "Where have I said that ALL cops should be punished? Punished for what and how?" You support lo…


Posted 11 hours ago by Angie McDaniel.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

Yeah, you can start by reading the original post before commenting with unintelligible information. The Constitution does not give American…


Posted Yesterday by Shane Marcus.

article: Knights of Columbus annual crab feed

What kind of crab? There is more than one kind...


Posted Yesterday by Angie McDaniel.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

Ed, stay on point. No one asked you to provide the top ten most dangerous jobs. I don't remember the last time an iron worker was threatene…


Posted Yesterday by Shane Marcus.

article: Census: Young adults face higher povert…

You really cannot compare 1980 with 2014. Those were the Regan years, and although he wasn't perfect he never disrespect to the office (Co…



Popular Stories


Vote on the biggest local story in 2014: See poll below

It has been an eventful year in Lodi, from the antics of a wild turkey named Tom Kettleman to the announced closure of the General Mills plant. What do you see as the biggest story of the year?

Total Votes: 354


Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists