Tempers flare as Hemet debates outsourcing water services

As part of an ongoing effort to cut costs, the city of Hemet is contemplating contracting out its water services.

The news comes as Gov. Jerry Brown announced historic restrictions on urban water use this wee, calling for a 25% across the board reduction.

Ultimately, it will be up to local water agencies about how to enforce and achieve those reductions.

Hemet leaders are contemplating the sale of the operations of the city’s water and sewer department. Hemet would retain ownership of the equipment, infrastructure and water rights, but someone else would manage, operate, maintain and repair the systems, according to the Riverside Press Enterprise

The contractor would pay the city a fee, making its money by collecting rates from water and sewer customers.

 The proposal has set off some tempers on the city council, the paper reports.

“What sounds like a procedural measure led to a dust-up at the last City Council meeting, with Robert Youssef promoting the move and K. Paul Raver taking the dissenting side.

Raver has stated that he doesn’t want to solve the city’s financial issue piece by piece. He has asked for a full inventory of needs and solutions.

“We have a revenue shortfall,” Raver said at the March 10 meeting. “What is the best way to address those problems? Answer those questions first.”

Youssef said seeking bids to run the water department would be part of that study and there’s no harm in asking for proposals.

“This is something we can’t wait on,” Youssef said. “We’ve waited way too long already.”