March 5, 2013
Tim Dewar, email@example.com
In the next two weeks, Golden State Water Company (GSWC) ratepayers will have two opportunities to learn more about the potential consequences of the proposed buyout of the water provider by Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD).
The first opportunity will be Thursday when members of Ojai Friends of Locally-Owned Water (F.L.O.W.) invite current GSWC customers to bring their questions to The Ojai Valley Inn at 6 p.m.
“Ojai FLOW will be hosting an informational meeting for current Golden State ratepayers regrading the Casitas proposal to acquire Golden State Water,” explained F.L.O.W. spokesperson Ryan Blatz. “This meeting will focus on how the Casitas proposal will affect our community. Ojai FLOW will be explaining how the Casitas proposal works and answering any questions the community may have. Current Golden State ratepayers are invited to bring their water bills so they can compare their current water costs to what they will be under the Casitas proposal.”
Ojai F.L.O.W. members initiated talk of a possible buyout after collecting more than 1,900 signatures in 2011 calling for Casitas to take over the for-profit company’s operation in Ojai.
Casitas studied the issue until August 2012 when its board decide to move forward with the process of pacing the bond before voters and what the terms of the bond election would be.
The CMWD board of directors will hold a public hearing March 13 at 6 p.m. at Matilija Junior High School’s auditorium regarding the buyout. At that meeting, the CMWD board could approve moving forward with the vote, set a date for the election and decide whether a special election or mail-in ballot election would be best.
Registered voters within the proposed communities facilities district would be asked to vote on whether to levy up to $60 million over 30 years on residential and commercial properties to pay for the cost of purchasing GSWC’s assets and to fund future repairs to the system that provides water to 2,900 accounts, mostly within the city limits.
The bond vote, which would likely be held sometime in July, would need affirmative votes by more than two-thirds of those voting to pass.
If the bond passes and GSWC decides not to accept a buyout offer from the CMWD, the city of Ojai would begin the eminent domain process as allowed by the franchise agreement it has with GSWC. It would then be up to a court to decide whether eminent domain could be used in this case and if so, how much GSWC would be compensated.