By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Elizabeth Hull, Helix Water District
December 7, 2016 (La Mesa) — Control of the Helix Water District board has shifted from a majority that voted to sharply increase water rates to a new majority that has pledged to resist new price hikes and if possible, roll back part of a five-year rate hike approved by outgoing board members.
Helix Water District’s Board elected new officers last night. Joel Scalzitti is the new president and Kathleen Coates-Hedberg is Vice President.
The Board also swore in Louis Tejeda, who has been declared the winner in his close race after all votes were counted. Earlier in the week, Mark Gracyk was also sworn in. The two newcomers ousted long-serving board members Chuck Muse and John Linden.
Backers of the rate hike had argued that it was necessary to recoup rising water costs to the district and assure funding for infrastructure maintenance and repair. But critics contended there was no need for the unprecedented five-year authorization for raising rates when future water costs and rainfall levels are not yet known.
Of directors who voted for the controversial five-year rate hike, only DeAna Verbeke, who is not up for reelection until 2018, remains.