Letters to the Editor

El Dorado Irrigation District ratepayers wake up!

By From page A5 | March 06, 2013


Once again, the EID board voted 4-1 (board member Alan Day voting no) to approve 7 percent pay raises for staff each year for the next three years. Look at the increase in your water and sewer bill to see what these pay raises are costing you. Yes, rates are up and so employees now are getting big pay hikes.

When is the last time you received 21 percent over three years as a raise. This EID board is out of touch with ratepayers and our current economic environment. Instead of lavish raises, why not give ratepayers a rate reduction?

Bob Luca
El Dorado Hills

Letter to the Editor

Discussion | 4 comments

  • Mary Lynn CarltonMarch 04, 2013 - 10:58 am

    EDITOR: Bob Luca’s letter is misinformed and wrong. You would think that a District Attorney’s investigator would have more interest in the facts — especially when he’s accusing EID’s Board of being “out of touch.” As the Mountain Democrat accurately reported, on Feb. 25 the EID Board and Employee Association agreed to implement the Public Employee Pension Reform Act five years early. As far as we know, we’re the first public agency in the region to accomplish this. It will save the District’s ratepayers $3.1 million between now and 2018, because employees will begin paying their full share of their pension contribution by the end of this year — a permanent 4 percent reduction in their income. Without negotiations, EID could not have implemented this reform until 2018. As a career-long public employee himself, Mr. Luca knows full well that a public employer is required to bargain with unionized employees over wages and benefits. In this bargain, in return for the pension concessions, the current union contract was extended for three years, through 2016. The extension includes annual CPI-based cost-of-living adjustments between 0 percent and 2 percent. If inflation is zero, the COLA is zero. If inflation is 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent, or even more, the COLA is 2 percent. Most experts expect inflation to be significantly more than 2 percent. We think this deal serves our ratepayers. Mr. Luca thinks it’s “lavish.” He pads his claim with half-truths about merit increases. To begin with, half of EID’s workforce today is not even eligible for these raises. And by 2016, only 10 percent of employees (fewer than 25 people) will be. Finally, eligible employees are granted merit increases only if they meet or exceed job expectations and defined performance measures in their annual evaluations. Mr. Luca wants readers to think that salaries are what’s driving EID’s rates — they aren’t. Even if every possible merit increase was earned, and inflation was at least 2 percent in every year, EID’s payroll would grow 3.9 percent in 2014, 3.2 percent in 2015, and 2.5 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, staffing has been reduced 30 percent and total operating expenses have dropped $4.7 million (nearly 10 percent) since 2008. Projected increases for operations and maintenance are limited to 2 percent per year going forward. The real reason EID’s rates are rising is to pay annual debt costs that will increase from $19.8 million in 2012 to $29.4 million in 2016. We incurred that debt to refurbish the facilities that provide our customers with safe, reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment, and to respond to ever more burdensome regulatory mandates handed down by the state and federal governments. These facts don’t make for a ripping Letter to the Editor, Mr. Luca, but at least they’re the truth. MARY LYNN CARLTON EID Director of Communications and Community Relations

  • Greg PradaMarch 04, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    One has to wonder why EID ratepayers pay more than $170,000 of salary, medical benefits, pension contributions, car allowance, etc. etc annually to receive willfully distorted EID propaganda from EID Communications Director Ms. Carlton. Ms. Carlton earns her lavish keep by issuing a multitude of press releases, "newsletters" and "Meeting Our Commitments" brochures cumulatively touting more than $25 million of "savings" since Jim Abercrombie became EID General Manager in September 2009. Yet somehow despite all all these claimed "savings" EID's Board has approved 102% of water rate increases for 2010-2015. If EID were truly making all these multi-millions of "savings" ratepayers wouldn't need to pay $170,000 to Ms. Carlton to hear what a great job EID is doing. They also wouldn't be paying 102% of rate hikes while most employees are getting 7% annual pay hikes, far above the 2.5%-3% average that has been the "new normal" for the past five years throughout America. Mr. Luca's letter is 100% factually correct, his question about rate reductions is a fair one, and Ms. Carlton's claim of $3.1 million savings is bald-faced deceit.

  • Bob LucaMarch 04, 2013 - 3:54 pm

    One should wonder why EID would launch such a vicious personal attack on me and my employment because I expressed my opinion regarding he Board voting to grant raises to employees after raising our water rates for the next three years. Pointing out facts as she see them would have been sufficient. Bob Luca

  • Richard RossMarch 04, 2013 - 11:48 pm

    Ms. Carlton is expected to compliment and praise the EID board. They employ her. She must echo what the board majority requires. I don’t envy her job if not her salary. I respond because I see the same economic symptoms in several local agencies. The various boards that spend our rate or tax dollars just don’t get it. We payers would rather keep our money then see it used to feather their agency nests with self-aggrandizing projects, generous contracts, organizational propaganda, etc. We want good service via good management. Not polished institutional egos. For example, the generous pensions, their structure and their costs were horrible economic decisions by our local agencies. The agencies lacked courage to address the mistakes themselves when the ‘ponzi’ reality was exposed. It took a half heart attempt at pension reform via state law to begin to slow the growth of pension debt and allow agencies to claim a face saving ‘change'. We payers are ultimately responsible for these debts not board directors. Ms.Carlton even acknowledges the employees will begin to pay their full ‘share' rather then the agency covering it. Her explanation of merit increases suggests that most employees will not meet minimum job expectations; "eligible employees are granted merit increases ONLY if they meet or exceed job expectations". Her letter says "half of EID’s workforce today is not even eligible for these raises", therefore, half must be eligible. I think the employees were demeaned by her unclear explanation. But then she explains in three years, 2016, only 25 employees will be eligible, suggesting merit assessment is a bad thing. So how is performance measured at EID? Maybe compensation could be explained in one of the pretty’ newsletters’ that come with our ever increasing water bills. But I doubt it, because they just don’t get it.



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