Monday, February 24, 2014

The most sophisticated swindler I have ever encountered.

This morning I received an email I must share with my readers. I am the lucky recipient of a tax refund! Low and behold this tax refund will appear on my Visa or MasterCard! All I have to do, I assume, is to give them my Visa or MasterCard number and the password and miraculously the $570.40 tax refund will appear on my card. How lucky can I get? Amazing! Below is the message as it was received. Now I am waiting anxiously for the dough!

You have get a Tax Refund on your Visa or MasterCard.
Complete the formular, and get your Tax Refund.

(Your Refund Amount Is $570.40)
Complete Formular


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Emperor’s new clothes - or are we all wet?

      "Many years ago there lived an emperor who loved beautiful new clothes so much that he spent all his money on being finely dressed. His only interest was in going to the theater or in riding about in his carriage where he could show off his new clothes. He had a different costume for every hour of the day. Indeed, where it was said of other kings that they were at court, it could only be said of him that he was in his dressing room!
    One day two swindlers came to the emperor's city. They said that they were weavers, claiming that they knew how to make the finest cloth imaginable. Not only were the colors and the patterns extraordinarily beautiful, but in addition, this material had the amazing property that it was to be invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid. (click for more)"
The saga of the Master Water Plan reminds me of this fable. We have been doling out more and more gold and the results are invisible to the naked eye and only our pockets see the difference. Perhaps I am one of the stupid ones who are unable to visualize the virtual clothes of the Emperor.

To summarize the situation: we had a problem of trying to deliver domestic water to domestic customers through irrigation pipes at the same time we were delivering irrigation water to irrigation customers. The result was that we provided cheap irrigation water to domestic users.

After spending $180 million we reversed the process and we are delivering large quantities of expensive domestic water to irrigation customers while we are providing some of the same to domestic customers at a much greater price. Fair trade, I guess.

When it comes to water rates I had options proposed.

Proposal 1: Use property taxation for the infrastructure financing and use true user fees for water consumption. My argument was that this was no different than having the sports field or the fire hall financing method. The house infrastructure (water lines, toilets etc) are connected to this infrastructure and, in fact, they are an important component of one’s home. Once the loan is paid, no more payment.

No way! I was told. It would be a major burden on business and could drive them away.

Proposal 2: If we insist on paying all the bills, including infrastructure costs using water rates, then we should use true user pay. Divide the budget requirement by the volume of water we intend to sell and use the result as the unit cost of water. To ensure everyone pays a fair share to the budget the minimum amount of water we must pay for is, say, 20 cubic meters per quarter or 80 cu. m per year at the previously determined unit rate. The city of Vernon uses this system for sewage payments.

Again, No way! Why not? We would increase business costs tremendously if they had to pay the same unit cost as domestic customers are paying (current rate is $1.50 per cubic meter for non-domestic users). Well, are they not using the same water as we, beleaguered domestic customers are using? Well, yes but we do not want to drive businesses away. Interesting. Do we not pay for the water costs of businesses indirectly when we use their services or buy their products? I guess I am wrong. Taxpayers should subsidize businesses anyway they can. I must be one of the “incompetent stupid ones” who cannot see the wonderful new garment the emperor is wearing. How could I pull the wool over the eyes of my electors who thought I might be worthy of being elected? I wonder!

All jokes aside we have created a monster of a MWP that is way over designed and a money waster. However, we must pay the bills. I am still trying to have the plan reviewed by a competent, independent review group and see if at least we could eliminate treating water for crops. 

In the meantime paying for the cost of water and infrastructure should be done in a fair and equitable way. There were some people on staff who believed that high water users subsidized low users because they contribute more money to the budget. They neglected the fact that high users are the ones who drive the high maximum daily demand and water facilities must be built to a size that would meet those demands.  If the system would be sized for the low users demand it would be a very small system.

The principle is: pay for what you use. If a kilogram of bread cost $5 then 5 kilogram should cost $25, it’s that easy.


Readers write. We might recognize an old player.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

New water rates approved by GVAC - February 20, 2014

The new water rates, starting on April 1, 2014, include a base fee increase of 24% ($86.80 to $99.82 and a consumption rate increase of 20%. Note that the flat fee portion of the fee structure is now 62.4% and the consumption portion 37.5% is the user pay portion of the total requisition from ratepayers. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

GVAC Meeting - February 20, 2014

Water rates for 2014 will be debated at this meeting. The meeting is open to the public! Note: major water rate increases are expected again (up to 20% or more)!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Coldstream Committee of the Whole Agenda - February 17, 2014

Note: Page 15 - 26


Tax Multipliers - Farm Property

 Report from the Director of Financial Administration dated February 10, 2014

Report from Director of Financial Admnistration dated February 10, 2014.pdf

Comment: Staff has requested that the Committee recommend to Council one of the options put forth in the report dated February 10, 2014.

Interested taxpayers may wish to attend!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Morning Star News Clip and a clarification.

Once again I wish to clarify my position on the Master Water Plan. My major objection is that the cost of the plan is huge and the result is an expensive irrigation system that will drain customers pockets for decades to come. It does not solve the problem we intended to solve by initiating the MWP, namely the separation of the two systems.

The Consultants in 2002 declared that the best solution to our water problem is a completely separated domestic and irrigation system. The main failure of their recommendation was that they did not thoroughly investigate all of the potential water sources (Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes). In addition, they proposed to build a new water treatment plant by the Regional District instead of upgrading the existing one on Mission Hill. This made the cost of the plan appear much larger than what it should have been. The updated MHTP would be able to handle all the domestic water for the foreseeable future with a cost reduction of their original plan of about $20 million.

The reason given for not doing a more in-depth investigation of Okanagan and Kalamalka Lakes was that there was not enough license capacity on those two lakes. This was not quite true.

What was ignored is the fact that the current Water Act permits transferring the Point of Diversion (POD) of water licenses on a contiguous waterway from upstream to downstream, provided there is no negative environmental effect resulting from such transfer. In our case water licenses on Deer Creek and Coldstream Creek could have been (and still could be) diverted to Kalamalka Lake, providing sufficient volumes of domestic water for at least 35 years hence. At the same time fish habitat on Coldstream Creek and Long Lake Creek (outlet of Kalamalka Lake) would be enhanced.

By extending the domestic water supply delivery system to customers hitherto supplied by Duteau Creek we would have avoided building a treatment plant at Duteau Creek and could have turned the whole irrigation system back to the agriculture customers. No treatment plant ($29 million), no agricultural separation ($10-15 million) and significantly less unnecessary studies of the Aberdeen watershed. More importantly we would have completed the plan before now at lower costs and with complete separation.

Following are three statements given by the current Consultants regarding water quality of Duteau Creek, Okanagan Lake and Kalamalka Lake (Technical Memorandum #2):   
    “The hydrologic regime of the Duteau Creek watershed is dominated by snowmelt and therefore, snow pack depth and timing of snowmelt dictate the supply status of upland reservoirs. Snow pack depth reaches the maximum in late March, early April, while snowmelt starts to fill the reservoirs after this date. Historical data indicates that by the middle of May, the seasonal snow pack is generally gone. This date represents the tail end of the snowmelt season. In normal years; the reservoirs would be nearing capacity by June. After this time, water supply is dependent on precipitation inputs. The summer period also corresponds to the period of peak irrigation demand, with maximum consumption between mid-July and mid-August. In the summer, because stored water is being consumed at a rate that far exceeds inflow, reservoir levels start dropping.”
    "Okanagan Lake abuts into the west end of the City of Vernon and is likely the largest and most reliable future source of water to meet the long term growth of the Greater Vernon area. It is the primary water source for the cities of Kelowna and Penticton, as well as a number of smaller centres." 
    "Kalamalka/Wood Lake, due to its large storage capacity and long turnover rate is much less susceptible to the annual variations in snow pack depth. Besides Upper Vernon Creek, Oyama Creek, and Coldstream Creek, abundant groundwater springs provide source inflows to Kalamalka / Wood Lake."
Having made these revealing statements their preference was still the less secure and more expensive water supply option. Why? 

When two reports are produced by two teams of the same consulting firms with two totally opposing solutions one must assume that a thorough investigation would be warranted. It did not happen. 

There were no detailed plans prepared: that is what we are doing now. However, now we are burdened with the existing expenditures of millions of dollars. 

How do we ensure that these expenditures are justified in the new plans? Would we proceed in this direction have we not invested $68 millions of ratepayers money? Unlikely. The new plan only needs 110 ML/d treated water from the existing plant. The capacity of the existing plant is 162 ML/d. That's an oversize of 47%. Would a 110 ML/d plant cost less than $29 million? I would assume the answer is yes.

Could we still return to the total separation? I believe we could and in the future I will provide some possible solutions. It would involve discontinuing the use of the DCWTP and deferring the filtration plant with the approval of Interior Health. The results would reduce the immediate costs. Irrigation water would return to the agricultural customers for their own use. In my opinion, it is better to admit a mistake and correct it the right way than to continue with the faulty solutions burdening current and  future generations.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Expect another significant water rate hike for 2014!

Congratulations Citizens of Greater Vernon. Your meticulous water saving efforts earned you another significant water rate increase for the coming year. Exact numbers are not yet available: those particulars will be discussed at the next special meeting of the GVAC on February 20th, 2014 at 8:00 AM in the RDNO Board Room. Citizens are welcome to attend as observers.

It appears that the water conservation efforts were so successful that GVW has not been able to meet revenues for the past two to three years.

The other reason is GVW's continued effort to provide even better quality water to irrigate our agricultural crops. With the proposed filtration plant at Duteau crops will get higher quality water than customers getting their water from Mission Hill (Kalamalka Lake Water).

Of course, this increase is only temporary. Once the referendum is passed(?) we will need another $5 million or so annually to cover the financing of the proposed $70 million loan. This is not a fret, this is reality. Our initial referendum of $35 million has matured into a proposed $138 million investment and we are not yet finished. The $70 million is only the first installment of the current MWP price tag of $111 million. Projected total expenditure: $179 million. 

Expensive irrigation water!  


Monday, February 10, 2014

Readers write - MS newsclips and a response.

Why would Coldstream contemplate amalgamation when the numbers speak for themselves?
This table might be informative to your readers of your blog along with Mr Shepherd's letter to the paper. It shows that our spending outpacing growth and inflation is not out of line with that of other community's. At number 138 it appears that only 15 communities out of 153 are doing better than us. From the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) report titled BC Municipal Spending Watch 2013.


Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss;


We must protect our rights and freedom! (Photo courtesy of D. Gibson) Click on eagle to watch EAGLECAMS

About Me

My photo
I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.