From earlier this week:
FREMONT — To celebrate its centennial, the Alameda County Water District is spending about $280,000 to publish two books on its rich history, just as it raised water rates for the 12th consecutive year.
The district board president said the expenditure is right in line with the agency’s mission to educate the community about its valuable water resources. “People are always surprised to learn that ACWD is California’s first and oldest county water district and it’s the oldest government agency in southern Alameda County,” said Paul Sethy.
But Fremont resident Eric Tsai sees things a bit differently. “It’s a waste of ratepayers’ money,” he said, suggesting the district would do better spending the money on “replacing pipes or paying off its debt.”
The district has assembled an experienced team to develop the books: It will pay $219,000 to the Water Education Foundation, a Sacramento nonprofit organization that specializes in state water issues and history, to produce the publications, and another $60,000 to Paul Piraino, the district’s ex-general manager, to research agency history and serve as the main author. Piraino, a district employee for 27 years, receives an annual pension of about $250,000.
Formed in 1914, the Alameda County Water District today serves 336,000 people in Fremont, Newark and Union City, and has an annual budget of $119 million. It employs 238 full-time workers, whose future pension and health costs, estimated at nearly $130 million, are partly why the agency has raised rates each year since 2003.
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