I wanted to provide an update on my article yesterday as the Antioch Chamber informed me that Ironhouse Sanitary District (ISD) paid $2,500 on the EC² The Collaborative. Now, General Manager of ISD Tom Williams sent me an email around 5:00 pm yesterday stating they only paid $1,250.
According to his email, this was done under “my authority as General Manager”. Here is his full email response below:
ISD funded $1,250 (1/2 of a sponsorship) for this event and was approved by me under my authority as General Manager. As ISD is looking to sell its highly treated water to help offset rates in the future, I see this as an opportunity to promote and spread the word to possible users about ISD’s recycled water asset in Oakley; and offer a tour of the new ISD Water Recycling Facility to conference participants. Also, I see this collaborative as an important effort to try and bring focus on our area assets (East Contra Costa…not just ISD) so that we can hopefully, as a region, encourage companies to locate in this area and bring with them sustainable jobs.
So now we have the Antioch Chamber telling me one thing and Ironhouse telling me another. The truth is, the figure doesn’t really matter because ISD should not be sponsoring an out of district event like this. They especially shouldn’t be sponsoring this event when Delta Diablo Sanitation District is already a sponsor.
In the name of fairness, the ISD Board gets a pass on this one, but Tom Williams should not. His justification is pretty weak as he doesn’t even explain how this event will bring business to the area, instead, he talks about selling water and a tour.
If the region was serious about encouraging companies, you wouldn’t be taking ratepayer money to hold a forum that Ironhouse. The stakeholders would get together and figure out a regional plan and invest in some branding and marketing to businesses.
More to the point, Ironhouse has been a bottleneck in Oakley for new business and home development–the Board is responsible for this This is proven in the new connections each year that have decreased the more rates have gone up.
If ISD wants to get new business to Oakley, they further need to reduce rates, make it easier on applicants, and provide a tiered pricing based on different types of business–it’s not a one size fits all price model as a barber shop will use less water/services than say a restaurant.