The City of Corcoran’s ongoing litigation against Curtimade Dairy is shameful and unwarranted. Instead of focusing tax dollars on safe and sustainable water projects, they’re targeting one of their oldest neighbors to foot the bill for old debt and new legal fees.
During the height of the drought, the City of Corcoran encountered issues with elevated nitrate levels in groundwater. Although repeated tests conducted by the city reveal the water is safe, city leadership is placing all bets on litigation to pay their debt.
Follow the money and see where it goes. Financial statements dated June 30, 2017, reveal the magnitude of the city’s water related debt. Outstanding loans are still being paid to the state from a water project in 1976 in the original amount of nearly $1.54 million. A drop in the bucket compared to the more than $32 million the city is expected to pay by the year 2047 for Water Revenue Refunding Bonds.
It’s clear the City of Corcoran is over their head and grasping for the edge. The bills keep stacking up and billable hours don’t come cheap. The budget shows year-over-year increases for city attorney fees since they began litigation in 2015. To make up the shortfall, they move money from the water budget to the general fund - upwards of $500,000 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year alone.
Citizens of Corcoran have a right to be upset if water budget money isn’t being used to supply residents with safe water. Clearly, the City of Corcoran’s goal is not to supply clean water for their citizens.
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The Curti family has been a neighbor to Corcoran for 106 years, and was willing to work cooperatively with the city to remain proactive as strong advocates for protecting water quality. But when the State Water Board did not find it “necessary or appropriate” to continue its involvement, people were left scratching their heads as to why litigation against the Curti family will continue.
The leadership in the City of Corcoran should clean up the mess they’ve created through more honest and responsible means.
Larry Dutto, PhD
Provost and Dairy Professor Emeritus
College of the Sequoias