Claremont COURIER/Saturday, January 26, 2013
he first water negotiation meetingscheduled to take place betweenGolden State Water Company andthe city of Claremont has been canceled.
After about a month of pause in the water discussion,City Manager Tony Ramos announced the city’s intentto meet water company officials at the city councilmeeting Tuesday night. Golden State Water officialsconfirmed on Wednesday that a meeting was scheduledto take place between city and water company repre-sentatives in the form of a conference call Friday, Jan-uary 25. Legal counsel would be present for both sides.No sooner was the meeting announced than it wascalled off due to scheduling problems, according toboth groups. The 2 groups have yet to meet followingthe city’s first formal offer for purchase of its water sys-tem.In November, Claremont attorneys presented GoldenState with a $54 million offer for purchase of the city’swater system and assets. While the water company hasmade repeated statements that Claremont’s water sys-tem is not for sale, officials say they are open to dialogand ways to work together moving forward. The citymaintains its focus on water system ownership, whetherthrough negotiations or by acquisition.The privately-owned water company approached theCPUC in July 2011 to request a rate increase of morethan 24 percent to take effect in 2013 with additional,smaller increases to be added in 2014 and 2015. Theappeal was followed by a series of protests from thewater company’s customers, many here in Claremont,upset about yet another set of rate increases. After sev-eral public hearings held in November 2011 and nego-tiations the following spring, the CPUC has beencharged with deliberating the final rate.While a decision was anticipated by the end of 2012in order for the rates to take effect as requested on Jan-uary 1, 2013, the CPUC has yet to render any decisionon the final rate.As the city awaits a decision from Sacramento on thewater rates, Claremont officials made their own visitthe state capitol on separate city business. Mr. Ramosand several city council members attended the Leagueof California Cities’ first policy committee meetings for2013. Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali sits on the em-ployee relations policy committee, CouncilmemberSam Pedroza serves on the transportation, communi-cation and public works committee, CouncilmemberJoe Lyons on community and economic developmentand Mr. Ramos on the public safety committee.“League support and opposition to legislation is ameans of influencing our state decision-makers and en-suring our local government is representing us at a statelevel,” Mr. Ramos said. “We want to thank our coun-cilmembers for serving on these policies. It is an extraadded duty beyond what you do as councilmembers butthat is how we get our voice to be heard representingthe residents of Claremont.”
In other council news
Back on the home front, Claremont continues tomove forward on city policy and goals. Among these iscontinuing to allocate funds to community efforts likethe Safe Routes to School program. On Tuesday, thecouncil approved the allocation of $450,000 in Caltransgrant funds and $51,500 in local Measure R funds tosupport the program’s continued efforts.Implemented in spring 2011, Safe Routes provideseducation, training and incentives for students to pro-mote the safe use of public walkways for walking orbiking to school. The half-million in funds will be usedto make bike and pedestrian improvements on publicright of ways near Danbury, Vista de Valle andSycamore elementary schools as well as El Roble In-termediate.Councilmember Joe Lyons added his voice to thecouncil’s unanimous support of the city’s continuedwork with the Safe Routes to School program and over-all city sustainability efforts.“This is a good example of how we advance ourcity’s interests...and acquire funding from the federaland state levels that are available for our residents’needs,” Mr. Lyons said. “This is a kind of home rulethat I think we do well in Claremont, and I think othercities would do well to model after us.”The council continued to drive city interests forwardon Tuesday night by adding its approval to the latestbudget for the city’s Community Development BlockGrant program (CDBG), supporting city and county-wide programs and projects dedicated to helping low-income individuals.This year, the city will award $137,204 to partici-pants in CDBG, a federal block grant program that re-ceives grant funding from Los Angeles County on ayearly basis in order to continue its operations. $60,000of that grant money will be used for housing rehabili-tation, $20,580 for senior case management and$56,624 for job creation and business incentive. MayorLarry Schroeder expressed his pleasure in the city’scontinued funding for the job creation and business in-centive program, which offers loan forgiveness to newor expanding businesses in exchange for hiring a full-time employee.“We get double credit here. We are not only helpinglow-income residents, but we are also helping eco-nomic development,” he said.
City manager gets merit bonus, payout
The council also awarded a one-time merit bonus toCity Manager Tony Ramos to the tune of $10,048.50and a payout of 2 weeks paid vacation at $7,729.66 fora total of $17,778.16 in addition to his regular salary.Council members directed city counsel to prepare a res-olution approving merit awards for the city manager,promoted to his current title in November 2011, afterconducting an employee evaluation earlier this month.City accomplishments under his leadership include theFoothill Boulevard relinquishment, the establishmentof Courier Place, development at Auto Center Driveand the parking lot expansion at the Claremont HillsWilderness Park.“During the process of evaluation, [the council is]appraised of the long list of accomplishments that ourcity manager has overseen,” Mr. Lyons said, adding, “Italso gives me the opportunity to compliment the staff also that makes his job and his accomplishments cer-tainly the stellar accomplishments that they are.”
Unable to agree, city and Golden State postpone talk
he Los Angeles CountyBoard of Supervisorshas granted an exten-sion for those who want toprotest the proposed county-wide Clean Water, CleanBeaches tax initiative. If ap-proved, the measure wouldcharge residents an annual feeto help pay for water qualityprojects.
The city of Claremont, the Clare-mont Unified School District and thePomona Valley Protective Association(PVPA) joined with numerous othermunicipalities, school districts and or-ganizations across the county to addtheir voice in opposition against theClean Water, Clean Beaches tax, whichwould cost the city an estimated$102,703 a year.The Clean Water fee is expected tocost the average single-family home-owner in Claremont $54 a year of whatcity officials believe will add up to$1,539,658 annually for residents. Only40 percent of those funds will be re-turned to the city for use in its watertreatment, Brian Desatnik, director of community development, noted earlierthis month.“The measure provides an inade-quate amount of funding to deal withthe full compliance issue for the city,”he told the council on January 8. “Webelieve that if there is going to be anapproach to local funding, we shouldhave more control over the entire fund-ing source generated locally and that itshould deal with the entirety of theissue and not just a small portion.“It’s just not a solution to the prob-lem,” he continued.Those who wish to protest the parceltax will be allowed 60 more days to doso. As of January 15, only 95,000 peo-ple had protested the fee. More than 50percent of LA County’s 9.8 million res-idents are needed to stop the tax fromgoing to a vote.More than 200 individuals spoke ear-lier this month at a hearing of the LACounty Board of Supervisors, whichgathered to take a vote on whether ornot to send the proposed tax to a coun-tywide vote. Supervisors tabled thevote after weighing the concerns of thepublic. Many LA County residents saidthey were upset with the timing of theproposed measure, sent in a nondescriptletter that many noted looked like junkmail during the bustling holiday season.In addition, many were upset about theconfusing verbiage of that letter.Supervisors directed staff to makechanges to the measure to include asunset date, a list of projects and acredit for property owners already col-lecting storm water before making a de-cision.“I think the supervisors did the ap-propriate thing and have extended [thedecision] out and will revisit this in thenext couple of months,” said City Man-ager Tony Ramos.In addition to emails, letters of protest can also be mailed to the execu-tive officer of the board of supervisorsat PO Box 866006, Los Angeles, CA90068. For more information on CleanWater, Clean Beaches, visit www.la-countycleanwater.org.
City believes initiative is not part of clean water solution
Lindblad to joinPomona College
Bertil Lindblad, director of the UN-AIDS New York Office, will joinPomona College as senior adviser forinternational initiatives this March,bringing with him more than 30 yearsof experience in large and complexglobal organizations focused on inter-national cooperation and development.In the newly created position, Mr.Lindblad will work with the college’sleadership to coordinate and expandPomona’s global connections and in-ternational activities.Among his duties will be workingwith faculty to establish relationshipswith international organizations, in-cluding non-governmental organiza-tions, United Nations agencies andthink tanks; expanding internationaloptions for students; and facilitatingcampus visits by international profes-sionals, artists and scholars.Mr. Lindblad, a 1978 graduate of Pomona College, assumed his currentpost as director of the UNAIDS NewYork Office in 2008, after serving 4years as UNAIDS regional director forEastern Europe and Central Asia,based in Moscow.