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With Healthy Reserves, Ironhouse Rate Increases Must Stop

I have no problem with a healthy reserve as each entity should strive to achieve it through living within its means. Unfortunately for Ironhouse, they have a healthy reserve at the expense of the ratepayers. In this type of economy, the Board should be considering freezing the rate instead of adding an additional burden to the ratepayers.

In looking at the reserves, its been irresponsible to continue to increase rates as the Board has done each year since 2000. I understand inflation and I understand the “what if” scenario, but not on the peoples backs. Not with $17 million in the bank–or around two years worth of operating budget available.

Since 2000, our rates have increased as little as $6 annually to as much as $60 depending on the year.

What is worse is that during a down economy, at the Direction of the Board, rate increases allowed Ironhouse to maintain their standard of living/operation. They were able to maintain their staffing levels, give pay increases, travel, maintain association  memberships and of course build a new facility. All this occurred in a down economy while operating as if the economy was strong.

Compared to the City of Oakley, furloughs occurred, jobs were lost, travel was limited and services were reduced.

In a public information request, I asked for the total reserves since 2000. I asked for this request on August 21 and it was just provided to me a few hours ago.  Here is a screen shot of the document. Keep in mind that in 2000, your rate was just $249. In 2006, your rate was $360. Today, its $618.

For those of you who just want the total reserves vs. total funds required to operate, here you go!  These numbers were provided to me in the fiscal year budgets I also requested. In the rate column, I’ve also included the annual increase figure.

PDF Provided by Tom Williams: Request 13 – Cash Balance Reserve Analysis by Year

Year Rate / Increase Operating Funds Required Total Reserves
2012 $618 / +$26 $8.389,675 $17,012,405
2011 $592 / +$18 $7,138,400 $17,601,896
2010 $574 / +$32 $7,048,670 $22,482,738
2009 $542 / +$32 Not provided $23,199,327
2008 $510 / +$45 Not Provided $22,058,002
2007 $465 / +$53 Not provided $19,217,014
2006 $412 / +$52 $6,822,130 $18,050,311
2005 $360 / +$60 $8,338,445 $16,747,006
2004 $300 / +$9 $8,434,695 $10,684,093
2003 $291 / +$9 $6,362,421 $10,283,414
2002 $282 / +$6 $6,596,650 $10,381,113
2001 $276 / +$18 $6,128,560 $8,333,477
2000 $258 / +$10 $5,120,044 $6,831,720

Note: In my email from Tom Williams, I was not provided with the 2007, 2008, 2009 budgets.

While I understand lowering rates will be difficult, at the very worst the Board should freeze rates as the District has not made the sacrifices required to ask for another increase.  A Special District should earn a rate increase by living within its means and doing everything to prevent increases, not demand maintaining its budget on the backs of the people it services.

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7 Responses »

  1. Holy cow! You guys are getting screwed over there!

  2. I am offended by what Ironhouse has done. I get that increases are a part of life. But there comes a point where sometimes too much in reserves is not responsible and that should result in either freezing the rate, or reducing it. Burk is right, freeze that rate! I think the chart really helps break down what has transpired.

  3. Gee Burke, you should be applauding the District for actually having a reserve instead of being in debt. What is responsible is what they have done which is ensure Ironhouse is sustainable. Don’t you ever have anything productive to say? So the ratepayers pay a little more now, its better than a lot later.

    • Lori, there comes a time when ratepayers cannot pay “a little more” over and over and over. We are very conservative people and let me assure you these State, County, School District, Water District amounts add up to people losing their homes. You may have a cush job and big house but all these amounts add up and up until they choke you. Everyone should plan for reserves. Businesses and citizens alike.

      I hope Burke continues to alert you folks to the goings on around you. If it wasn’t for him none of you would know a thing. And probably deserve what you get.

      GO BURKE

    • Lori, lets just apply your way of thinking to fire service and see if you really believe that. Burk just spelled out a big problem. He said he was for reserves if they were healthy, if you read what he wrote, he stated they were excessive which is where he is 100% correct.

      The difference is in fire, you need the service area to vote for a tax while Ironhouse it takes just 3 out of 5 people to increase rates.

  4. Lori, did you get your big sister Jill’s permission before posting? She usually goes first when it comes to your predictable whining about Burkholder’s findings. …….and believe me, I know a thing or two about whining.

    Like it or not Ben and Burkholder are right on all counts. Even I can see that from the cheap seats.

    • I noticed that one to. They both post together. Lori’s comment should be taken with a grain of salt. I think Burk pointed out a major flaw in Ironhouse, its free to have a reserve, but a large reserve is irresponsible when they continue to raise rates.

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