With the goal of building on the current council’s success and ending what she described as “viciousness” on the part of Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, city council member Nancy Neubauer has filed candidacy forms. She is seeking to serve a full term.
Since recently being appointed to serve out a short council term, Neubauer has joined the dog control task force and is a member of the Business Revitalization Committee.
However, Neubauer said that at the present time, the most crucial council task is seeing to the completion of the water and sewer capital improvement projects.
She stated that when the city council members were preparing to adopt the utility rate adjustments, they were open with the public regarding the reason for the increases. She noted that they formed the Water and Sewer Task Force, and they adopted 10 of the 11 task force recommendations.
“For all of that hard work, the city was delivered a lawsuit,” said Neubauer. She continued by pointing out that the city’s legal counsel maintains that the lawsuit does not have merit, and it will cost the city between $50,000 and $100,000 in legal fees.
“Citizens, I ask you – is this really how you want the city to have to spend money?” Neubauer asks.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dunsmuir City Council candidate Nick Mitchell and Citizens For Better Dunsmuir. The legal complaint alleges that the rate increases were not lawfully passed, and the plaintiffs are attempting to get the rate increases rolled back. Five CFBD members are now running for city council.
A group of residents subsequently wrote a letter to CFBD members asking that they drop the lawsuit, and they collected signatures to present to Mitchell. Neubauer pointed out that Mitchell refused to drop the lawsuit.
She said that this is contrary to Mitchell’s campaign promise to listen to the desires of the citizens.
Mitchell told the newspaper that the letter had 10 signatures on it, and “that is a far cry from the majority of the people.” He further commented that the lawsuit was filed because he believes that the way the rate increases were implemented was unconstitutional.
“I really want to ask the citizens of Dunsmuir to put their big people pants on and question why Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir are doing what they are doing,” said Neubauer. “This wild west mentality is not acceptable.”
In addition, “There are personal and monetary benefits to be had from their plan to roll back the rate increases,” said Neubauer.
She noted that Mitchell, who owns Thriftway Foods, uses more water than the average business owner because of his water-cooled refrigeration system. Therefore, he pays more money for water service each month.
Neubauer stated that if Mitchell really wants to benefit Dunsmuir, he should upgrade his refrigeration cooling system. She also noted that Mitchell would qualify for a low-interest Economic Development Block Grant business loan for the upgrade.
“That would not only help the environment, but it would minimize the use of our precious water resources,” said Neubauer.
Mitchell has stated that he researched air-cooled as opposed to water-cooled compressors. He said that water-cooled systems are more environmentally sound, and if he replaced his system with an air-cooled compressor, he would ultimately pay more for electricity and it would not save him any money.
Neubauer pointed out that she believes the literature that CFBD candidates are sending out to residents contains incorrect information.
“I am gravely, gravely concerned about the misinformation that Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir are circulating,” said Neubauer. “They are conducting a relentless campaign of falsehood in order to justify their position.”
Neubauer referenced a mailer that CFBD candidates sent out to residents; she said it contained incorrect information.
The mailer states that the city currently meets all its obligations regarding the wastewater treatment plant.
Neubauer said that this is incorrect. In actuality, the treatment plant has been issued two cease and desist orders and must make improvements by December of 2011 in order to avoid fines.
Neubauer noted that fines would be $3,000 per day, and that the city is in danger of having the state take over control of its utility rate structure. If that comes to pass, there will be no Proposition 218 protest. “The state could triple our rates, and there would be nothing that we could do about it,” she commented.
Neubauer continued by stating that the city is dealing with 100-year-old infrastructure, and that delaying repairs to the system “does not make one iota of sense.” She added, “I have trouble sleeping at night because I know the facts. The problem is serious.”
The mailer also states that the council is exclusively made up of appointed members. Neubauer said that is also incorrect.
Neubauer noted that when council members Peter Arth and Mario Rubino filed their candidacy papers, they were the only ones to file for the two open positions. Therefore, there was no election. That does not mean that they were appointed. In addition, council member Ed Steele was elected during the primary to serve his short term.
Neubauer asked where the CFBD council candidates were two years ago when Rubino and Arth were the only candidates to step up to take on the challenge of serving on council.
She said the CFBD candidates have not offered any solutions to the capital improvement project needs. “There is not one solution in this mailer,” Neubauer said as she held it up. “I find that really troubling. Where is the concrete? Where is the meat?”
“The Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir have simply gathered up just enough information to come up with the wrong conclusion,” stated Neubauer.
When contacted, Mitchell revealed that the CFBD candidates have identified a solution. He said that they will rescind the rate increases and place a property tax measure on the ballot to raise revenue for the capital improvement projects. This revenue source would be in lieu of the option to take out a USDA loan to finance projects.
Upon hearing of this plan, Neubauer responded:?“Are you kidding me? Raise our taxes versus a small monthly utility rate increase? People want more taxes like they want a stake in the eye.”
The city has been studying the water and sewer issues for 20 years, Neubauer stated. Now the current council is actually doing something to address them. She said that this action should be met with praise, not a lawsuit.
Neubauer noted that the council took a big step in the right direction with its decision to hire city manager Jim Lindley, whom she described as “an incredibly experienced public servant, who is doing a great job for the city.”
With the election coming up, Neubauer asks citizens to look into their hearts and vote for candidates who have the best interests of the city in mind.
“I hope to be elected to serve on the city council for the next four years, which I will do in a calm and measured fashion that is productive for all. I will deal with what the facts actually are, not what I wish them to be,” said Neubauer. “I know that if the Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir group is elected, the very future of our town is at stake.”