End of the Rainbow

Less than a decade ago, Rainbow Municipal Water District was a sad, dysfunctional water district. General managers had departed; management and engineering were being outsourced. Employee turnover was routine. Rainbow trained people, and as soon as they had certification, they moved on. Mandated reservoir covering was being fought by part of the board. The budget process was a nightmare. This proved very expensive.

Then, over a few years, Rainbow got it together. It hired its own engineer, then a new general manager. It started work on the long delayed reservoir covers. It created ratepayer committees on communication, engineering, and budget and finance.

The budget process was improved and streamlined; a method of prioritizing capital improvement projects was developed. The reservoir covers were done, the budget reduced, employees stayed on.  Plans were made to serve the new development at I-15 and SR76. There was light and a bright future at the end of the tunnel. But also at the end of the tunnel were FPUD and its new general manager who wanted what Rainbow had.

Somehow, he enlisted Rainbow’s general manager and a majority of the board to sign on to what can only be described as a takeover. There is no evidence that any money will be saved, or that Rainbow’s interests will be served.

The moral of this story is that if you clean up your act and become successful, somebody else will enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

Maureen Rhyne

11 Responses to "End of the Rainbow"

  1. Avo Farmer   February 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Maureen, you sound like you have been around awhile and know RMWD’s history. Why don’t you believe their consolidation study?

    It sure looks to me to be a well researched study. How can you say "there is no evidence that any money will be saved"? The evidence is right there in black and white. Do you have some evidence that they are not giving us the whole story or that they are fudging the figures?

    If RMWD is so well managed lately, why did their payroll go up $300,000 between 2009 and 2011?

    Why have my water costs doubled in the last few years?

    Please give us some specific proof that the consolidation is bad for us RMWD customers before it is too late.

    One thing is for certain. If no savings are made and water costs continue to rise, most avocado groves will be gone and with the groves, the majority of RMWD profits. These lost revenues will have to be replaced by much higher costs for businesses and homeowners. Call RMWD and ask them how much they will have to raise water rates if they lost all their SAWR sales. That should open your eyes to why something needs to be done.

  2. Unbelieveable   March 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Oh come on now Maureen, the RMWD has always been a hot mess. You had that one troublemaker and his band of merry men constantly causing problems for the district forever. They would pick some poor fool to run for the board, and then when their candidate won and didn’t do everything he and his buddies demanded they would get out a recall petition and have a costly recall election. This went on for years!! You now have a good district manager, a well run staff and a board of directors who actually know what they are doing for a change. The only hope for RMWD is this merger with FPUD, it should have happened a long time ago.

  3. Amazing   March 1, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Ago Farmer: this merger won’t stop water costs from rising. Even the proponents of the merger admit as such. All the savings will be eaten up in a single year of MET water rate increases. Why does FPUD have the highest paid general manager in all of San Diego? And what you call a ‘study’ i call a sales brochure. It’s a fluff piece prepared by the very individual who stands to gain the most out of this fiasco.

    Unbelievable: The District Manager is leaving. The individual who actually ran the staff well and made the hard decissions just left and the board appears to be working for FPUD, not Rainbow. If things are working so well why is Rainbow’s only hope a merger? FPUD needs Rainbow. Except the talent that saved Rainbow is now gone.

  4. Unbelieveable   March 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    @Amazing: Because RMWD allowed a group of wackos to take over and control the district for over 30 years no monies were spent doing anything constructive, like fixing the rapidly aging and failing infrastructure. The district is on track now but it has become a matter of too little to late, a takeover by another district was inevitable, you are lucky that it turns out to be a merger with FPUD. Actually it is the FPUD ratepayers who will get the short end of the stick, bailing RMWD out.

  5. Amazing   March 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    @Unbelievable: lucky is not how I feel. The issues you speak about we’re ancient history. Rainbow was on track and working well. FPUD knows it. Rainbow has planned revenue sources that FPUD doesn’t in the developments along the 15. FPUD is in dire need of help and future cash. Rainbow has it. FPUD wanted it. FPUD snookered Rainbow. End of story.

    I question your ability to understand business or finances if you believe FPUD is bailing out Rainbow. Even in the glossy sales brochure prepared by FPUD, FPUDs infrastructure is listed as being in worse shape than Rainbows. There are some things even a carpet-bagger can’t hide.

  6. Hopefull   March 6, 2013 at 11:01 am

    FPUD is advertising for help, RMWD has had a hiring freeze since last year, they are short several key employees including a GM. RMWD will now have to rent help from FPUD Hello Mr. Brady, are you for hire? In a starvation mode, doesn’t take much to pick the bones, rumor around the County is RMWD’s property will be purchased by them for the river park.

    If Rancho would join in the consolidation too and receive water at their price from MET it would be a good solution all the way around, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

  7. Avo Farmer   March 9, 2013 at 12:35 am

    @Amazing: NOBODY is saying that water rates won’t go up. We all know that. What they are saying is that the merger will prevent them from rising as much. You obviously don’t have any specific information to support your position so I can only assume that the study (sales brochure) information is accurate.

  8. Customer   March 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I tend to agree with Unbelievable on this. However it is a moot point because it is now a done deal. I think RMWD for way to many years had the fox in charge of the hen house. Too little too late says it all.

  9. Avo Farmer   March 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    @Customer: It is not a "done deal". They have agreed only to a joint power authority, not to the merger. The JPA can be undone next year very easily, if it is not working out. If they merge, that will be very difficult to undo. I still have not seen any specifics on why the merger is a bad idea. Is there anybody out there that understands that just bad mouthing something without any specifics is pointless?

  10. Pink   March 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I have no specifics either way, but I have 2 good friends who work for RMWD and they both believe that the merger is a good idea and in the best interest of the district. I also know someone on the FPUD board and he also believes it will work out well for both. Because of that I tend to lean toward the merger. We will have to see how the joint power authority works out.

  11. Amazing   March 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    @Avo Farmer: For years Rainbow absorbed the cost of MET water rate increases to the detriment of Rainbow infrastructure. This JPA/Merger doesn’t save money for customers. It only sends what little remains out of the area and into Water Authority / MET coffers. You are killing the body to save the patient.

    The sales brochure is an accurate half-truth. I’m not disputing the information it contains. I’m questioning how two organizations can merge, doubling the size of the service area and infrastructure and yet cut 20% of their staff (130 down to 100) while still maintaining the same level of service. I have heard others argue that customer service was already insufficient at both agencies. Now it will only get worse.

    No one has shown how this combined agency will function. Where is the org chart? Where is the proposed work plan? So far we have only empty promises from politicians. "Trust me", seldom works. And the person who stands to gain the most, who sold this idea the hardest, is now in charge and will be able to hide any failings. We will never know the true cost of this boondoggle.

    Once the 30 employees are gone, then what? MET rate increases aren’t going away. Will the joint district lop off another 30? And another? How much fat do you think these districts have?

    The math does not add up.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.