Letter to the Editor: re Ronald Wastewater 2013 Proposed Budget

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To the Editor:

This Proposed budget does not favor the ratepayers. The Board should be looking at ways to reduce the $11.15 per month per customer equivalent. The duties of the Commissioners and staff have not increased but the expenses have. There are no annexations of new areas; it is an established district which needs maintenance oversight without frivolous spending.
  • Do you know that their 2013 budget includes $111,500 for these monthly mailers?
  • Do you know they already have a web site that could provide all of this information?
  • Do you know they have the ability to write messages on the bills that they send out? 
  • Do you know they are having free community lunches the 3rd Friday of every month?
  • Do you know they are spending $4,000 for a conference room upgrade and $2,000 for an administrative chair?
  • Do you know that they have an approximate $6 million dollar repair and replacement fund?
  • Do you know that they have net revenue from operating of $1,862,712?
  • Do you know that after covering their CIP for 2013, they have net revenue of $698,168?
  • Do you know that the District operated for 60 years with three Commissioners and only added two more when one of the Commissioners lost the election and he was appointed back?
  • Do you know the salaries and benefits that these commissioners and their families earn?
  • Do you know the salaries of their management team?
  • Do you know that their travel expenses have increased as follows: 2011 - $12,905;  2012 - $21,800;  2013 - $36,000?
  • Do you know with good management they could reduce the District charge which would help subsidize the added treatment costs which are increasing another $3.69 a month per customer equivalent to $39.79?

Learn how your sewer rates are being spent and be sure you have the facts.  Learn the terms of the interlocal agreement referred to in this notice and the fact that it was signed by two of the current commissioners.

Sis (Sydell) Polin, Shoreline
Retired General Manager of Ronald Wastewater District


Sheila Long Shoreline,  November 28, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

Thanks for bringing all of this detail to light. I thought is was strange to suddenly add 2 new commissioners (and that added expense.

Is there a way to vote no confidence? Force a new election? These folks are NOT working on our behalf.

Anonymous,  November 28, 2012 at 9:17 AM  

$2000 for a chair???????? So how much were their toilet seats? This is a ridiculous waste of ratepayers money!

Anonymous,  November 28, 2012 at 1:31 PM  

What you just proved Ms. Polin that adding two new commissioners and a newsletter is insignificant in terms of its effect on the net revenue and the impact on the reserves for Ronald Wastewater.

Too bad the city isn't able to the same with its surface water management program. Let's play the same game:

Did you know the city failed to bill the school district annually $160,000 for its surface water utility? Did you know under state law the utility has to treat all customers in the same the class the same but are giving the school district a break so they can prepare for finally paying their bill?

Did you know that the city is going to use surface water management revenue to pay for the new storage facility? Did you know the city just took on $3 million more in debt for that facility?

Did you know that the city took on $18 million for the city hall, pledging rent and real estate excise taxes? Did you know that the general fund is paying for the shortfall from real estate excise taxes?

Did you know that the property tax levy lift has a shortfall of $650,000 from what the staff projected? Did you know that a citizens group predicted this shortfall two years ago and the city dismissed them?

Did you know that the city is finalizing plans to annex 145th, which will cost around $160,000 annually, coming out of the transportation benefits district and the roads fund, even as our existing roads fall apart?

Did you know in 2008-9 the city had over $11 million in reserve, and today reserves have dropped below $7 million? Where did all that money go?

We could play this game forever.

Tom Jamieson,  November 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM  

Given her background as a General Manager, and her intimate familiarity with Ronald Wastewater District, I am appalled that she has interpreted their proposed budget in the way she has. I will focus on one item, the so-called administrative chair.

Ms. Polin says "Do you know they are spending...$2,000 for an administrative chair?"

Well, let's take a look at the budget item. It says "Administration Office – chair replacement $2000"

Has a different ring to it, doesn't it? I checked with the District and found out sure enough, the item covers several chairs, not 1 chair. One of their employees is using a chair that was purchased in 1997. It's falling apart like a few other chairs of similar age. The District has not yet decided how many chairs to purchase, but they say it will probably be three or four chairs at $150 each or so. Nothing extravagant.

Have you been to Ronald lately, Ms. Polin? Nothing extravagant about it. And they hold an open house for the public once a month so they can come see for themselves. I encourage the readers to come down to Ronald's humble home, and then scoot down the street to City Hall to check out the view from the 4th floor, and the echo on the 3rd.

Anonymous,  November 29, 2012 at 7:41 PM  

Something doesn't seem quite right with Ms. Polin's letter.

First of all, she faults Ronald for having an emergency repair fund (isn't that a good thing?), then she insinuates that they are "frivolous" in spending $2,000 on a chair. I went to their website and read the budget and it's very clear that amount is for the whole office for an entire year, which doesn't seem frivolous at all. Then she insinuates that management and the commissioners (and their families?) make to much money. Then at the end I find out that she used to be a manager at Ronald? What? Did she have a problem accepting payment when she worked there? Did she turn down any raises? I seriously doubt it. And did I read it correctly that she is complaining about an $11.15 monthly sewer bill but then goes on to say that Ronald should also subsidize the King County charge? Huh? If Ms. Polin has a problem with the King County charge shouldn't she take that up with King County? How would that lower sewer bills exactly? She doesn't say.

Either she doesn't know how to read the budget, which as a former manager would be bad enough, or she is deliberately misrepresenting the budget, which is worse. Which one of these people does she want to be? It also appears that she wants the city to take over her former employer? What is really going on?

This does not read like a letter written by some civic minded public champion, It sounds more like she has some axe to grind with her former employer. Are there similiar letters from Ms. Polis about city waste? I'm pretty sure the chairs in the new city council room cost more than $2,000. Was she outraged then? Yeah...I didn't think so.

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