CLAREMONT - A decision to hire experts and consultants to proceed with the possible purchase of Golden State Water Co.'s Claremont assets is possible at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

"It's an agenda item that is just part of the Golden State Water Co. acquisition process," said City Manager Tony Ramos on Friday.

The city has considerd purchasing the company's assets, following the firm's efforts to sharply increase water rates.

City staff is recommending the council:

Allocate $300,000 from an unassigned general fund balance to the Water System Acquisition Reserve for a total reserve balance of $600,000.

Authorize Ramos to contract a California Environmental Quality Act consultant 0 to prepare necessary environmental documentation for Claremont to acquire and operate the water system and appropriate $150,000 from the Water System Acquisition Fund to fund the contract.

The council has set up to $150,000 to pay the consultant.

Authorize Ramos to contract with additional legal counsel, consultants and experts for Claremont's operation and acquisition of the water system at a cost of up to $300,000 from Water System Acquisition Reserve funds.

Golden State Water has been the focus of anger in Claremont after it originally submitted an application to the state Public Utilities Commission asking an increase of more than 24 percent for 2013 and additional increases in 2014 and 2015.

A negotiated settlement resulted in Claremont's 11,000 customers and ratepayers receiving a 15.1 percent rate increase in 2013, 2 percent more in 2014 and 1.8 percent in 2015.

In adddition to the attempt to buy the system, the council has considered obtaining it through the eminent domain process.

Denise L. Kruger, senior vice president of regulated utilities for Golden State Water, reiterated the company is not for sale in an email on Friday.

"It is disappointing that city officials are prepared to continue spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that can be better directed elsewhere," Kruger said.

"History shows this is not the first time Claremont ratepayers have been subjected to a risky endeavor. From 2003 to 2007, the Claremont City Council spent hundreds of thousands of dollars studying a possible takeover of the water system before ultimately abandoning the effort. During that time, the Claremont League of Women Voters issued a study finding that the cost of purchasing the system could be approximately $100 million; finance charges for the required bonding over a thirty year period would increase the taxpayer cost to $200 million. Golden State representatives told city officials that its system and water rights at that time were worth over $120 million. Now the city is attempting again to acquire the system and acting as if its prior five years of analysis and expenditures never happened."

The regular meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 207 N. Harvard Ave.

Before the meeting, a special closed session of the council will be held at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Golden State Water Co. in terms of price and a potential offer.

Also on Tuesday's agenda is the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park and Thompson Creek Trail permit policy, operating hours and ordinance recommendations.

According to the financial review, the parking permit sales could generate $180,000 per year and reimburse the general fund for contributions for construction of the north parking lot and fund ongoing operational costs.

Staff is recommending the following hours of operation:

6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in January; 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in February; 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in March; 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in April; 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in May; 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in June and July; 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in August; 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in September; 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in October; 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. in November; 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in December.

Included in the item is that four-hour permits would be available for $3 at the parking meters to be installed in both parking lots. People could also buy annual permits for $100.

There is also a free permit for a parking lot south of the park for Claremont residents and Claremont Colleges students. The permit will be issued every three years but will be limited to two per household with proof of residency.

To find the agenda for both items online, head to ci.claremont.ca.us


Reach Wes at via email, call him at 909-483-8549, or find him on Twitter @ClaremontNow.