Never mind that for the second year in a row, snowpack feeding the upper Colorado River is over 100% of normal, Bloomberg News has penned a comprehensive article about water drought in the Southwestern United States. It’s the first mention in the mainstream media of the immense wealth held by the Southern Nevada Water Authority:
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is about halfway through a 30-year, $8.3 billion construction campaign. Last year, 57 percent of the money for it came from a $6,310 fee to hook up new homes. The Las Vegas real estate slump is so severe that total hookup collections dropped to $61.5 million last year from $188.4 million in 2006. Mulroy says the authority actually lost money on hookups in January because of refunds to developers who abandoned construction projects.
As a result, reserves in the construction fund dropped 6 percent in the first six weeks of 2009, to $480 million. Without those reserves, Mulroy says, she couldn’t assure investors the authority would be able to repay the $500 million in bonds she plans to start selling by early fall to complete the Lake Mead project. The authority had $3.9 billion in liabilities on June 30.
The authority also gets money from water deliveries, property taxes and fees from federal land sales. If she has to protect the reserves, Mulroy says, she’ll raise water rates, which total about $21 a month for a single-family home.
She’s asked fellow Nevadan Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate majority leader, for a federal guarantee on the bonds. Reid is exploring how to help big municipal water systems, including Mulroy’s, get easier access to credit, spokesman Jon Summers says.
In February, Mulroy presented such a dire description of the authority’s finances to the Nevada legislature that Jerry Claborn, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, told her, “You’ll have to do like you did years ago: rub two sticks together.”
Mulroy said afterward she wanted to quash any notion that cash-strapped legislators could appropriate her reserves for some other purpose.
In mainstream media tradition, the reporters got it wrong. The Water Authority has $3.9-billion in assets and $2.4-billion in liabilities, leaving a net worth of $1.5-billion – a half billion of that in cash. And they let Mulroy get away with claiming that she’s “tried everything” to get water, thus her environmentally ruinous plan to drain Lincoln and White Pine Counties.
What’s not been tried is a serious effort at buying water from downstream water right owners on the Colorado River. That makes a great deal of sense because we already own the infrastructure to draw it into Las Vegas, via the water intake system on Lake Mead. Billions of unneccesary construction could be saved, but sometimes the Water Authority seems to try so hard to ignore this common-sense solution that one wonders if there is political (or even financial) gain in spending billions on the pipeline.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, like the Clark County School District, is consolidated to super-size and thus one of the largest police forces in America. A 2003 Department of Justice survey ranked Metro 13th largest. The DOJ is scheduled to release an updated 2007 survey in a few months.
Sheriff Gillespie proposed the next fiscal year (July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010) budget yesterday – $549-million, the same amount as the 2008-2009 budget proposal (although the press release makes it sound like there is a $18-million dollar budget cut in there).
The eight states north and east of California are preparing themselves for new record levels of fleeing Californians.
In response to having spent all of their substantial take from taxpayers, a coalition of 76 Democrats and 6 Republicans today passed a $13-billion tax hike. Nevada political pundits jealously coveted the plan’s “stable tax structure.”
The tax hikes include a full percent increase in sales tax, increasing the state income tax to 14%, and doubling car registration fees. The tax hike packages is about 65% the size of Nevada’s 2003 tax hike package, on a per-capita inflation-adjusted annual basis.
Standard & Poor’s has cut California’s credit rating to last place amongst 50 states.
Stimulus Watch has built a website that details each state’s “stimulus” projects. Nevada’s totals $1.5-billion, not including the Peidtrain.
Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley today unveiled a plan that could curtail new mortgage lending in Nevada for many years to come – by empowering people who don’t pay their bills to cheat the people from whom they’ve borrowed out of their money. Read about it here.
It’s already tough for a working person to get a mortgage, with some lenders requiring 30% down. This doesn’t seem like a government action that will reassure lenders their money will be safe, and may induce them to increase the down payment requirement.
I cannot more highly recommend this graphic, from the Washington Post.
(Peid is a contraction of Pelosi-Reid and rhymes with “speed”)
The stimulus package passed tonight apparently includes $8-billion for a Vegas-to-Riverside Peid Train.
It will have less capacity than Southwest Airlines, and will take longer. Hopefully, it will cost less to ride. Otherwise, we’ll have to outlaw Southwest Airlines.
Plus or minus, the Peid Train divides out to $4,000 per man, woman and child in Las Vegas. The burden will fall on our grandchildren, since this Congress and President lack the morality to actually fund their lardfest by collecting the money from the living. Or, perhaps, the feds will default on the debt.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the Internet…
According to the Las Vegas Sun, Bill Raggio has taken Assemblyman Ed Goedhart to task over Goedhart’s failing to support the Raggio’s tax hike agenda, saying he should be more straightforward.
A closed mind will not help us reach the compromises that, whether you accept it or not, are part of the legislative process.
In the future, if you want to give me a message or talk with me, be a man…
Raggio won a GOP primary against Sharron Angle last year on his promise to not raise taxes, but has since “opened his mind.”
This Raggio mind changes state so fast, only Dr. Edgerton could capture it.