Water Tax Ballot Is In Your Mailbox

Contra Costa County property owners to vote on ballot for programs to bring water up to state and federal standards.


Landing in Contra Costa County property owners' mailboxes this week are ballots to authorize a potential parcel tax to fund water pollution control improvements.

The 2012 Community Clean Water Initiative is designed to improve water quality and prevent pollutants, bacteria and trash from entering the streams and flowing into the Delta and the Bay. The goal is for the county comply with state and federal water purity standards.

Under the auspices of California Proposition 218 of 1996, the county will gather the results of property owners' votes, said Tom Dalziel, program manager for the Contra Costa Clean Water Program; if a simple majority is achieved, the county Board of Supervisors can levy the parcel tax in June.

For six years, the county set aside $1.5 million to fund an engineering study, funding analysis, public opinion surveys, public information campaign and election, Dalziel said.

Based on surveys of what communities could bear in a parcel tax, the proposed level is $19 per parcel in the west county and unincorporated areas; $22 per parcel in the central county and $12 per parcel in the east county. Dalziel said that revenue level will not finance the program sufficiently to bring county water up to state and federal standards — the cities and other municipalities will need to supplement revenue from general funds and other sources.

Thanks to Patch reader Bryn Thenell, who brought this to our attention.

Regular Guy February 25, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Should we assume that this is yet another money grab, asking for special funding to pay normal and predictable expenses after all the regular tax money has been spent in less popular ways? What's next, a "keep the traffic lights operating" tax? A "keep the roads from being completely neglected tax"? Oh, wait. I think they've already tried that last one. It's like the old National Lampoon magazine cover "If you don't buy this magazine we'll kill this dog". The voters are catching on.
CJ February 25, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Any more you can tell it is BS because of the name itself. They know all the libs will have to vote for it becasue it has the term "Clean Water" included in it. Many of these seemingly well intended propositions are nothing more than "make work" programs for staffers in the agency affected. I am afraid to open the envelope for fear of proving my own suspicions correct.
Dr Green February 25, 2012 at 07:05 AM
CJ - I'm a lib and I won't be voting for it. so your logic is obviously faulty.
X February 25, 2012 at 01:13 PM
With an internet search that required minimal effort I was able to ascertain that Carol Keane and Associates has been hired as the "Tabulator" for the Clean Water Fee ballots. Keane & Associates has performed similar tabulation functions for the county in previous years. Mailed ballots must be sent directly to the Tabulator while hand delivered ballots can be submitted to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County. http://www.cccleanwater.org/cleanwaterinitiative/pdfs/hearingdocuments12062011/CWFI_Resolution_2011.pdf So, Carol Keane, whom you've chosen to call a "jackass", is simply a CPA who has been hired to provide a tabulation service. But the real problem in this situation is that Patch has afforded you a public vehicle to attack and disparage Ms. Keane by labeling her "jackass", despite the fact that you clearly knew nothing about her or her role in this process. It's fine to question her role, but calling her a "jackass" exemplifies the arrogance, stupidity, and vitriol that has come to define many of the comments on this website. By no means should you construe my criticism as directed solely at your comment. It applies to many, many comments that have been appearing as of late and is one of the reasons that I opted to switch to a profile that matches the one used by most folks - full name no longer listed, no profile provided, and no personal photo, allowing me to feel safe and secure when making unsupported, inflammatory comments.
Lafayette Curmudgeon February 25, 2012 at 02:20 PM
hmmm.. that was beneath me. I apologize to the readers of Patch and more importantly to Ms. Keane. I find these mail-in only initiatives to be a scam of the first order, but that does not excuse a descent into name calling.
Jerry Vaught February 25, 2012 at 02:33 PM
When you vote no on the HWT (Hippie Water Tax) use one of those ballpoint pens we use for checks -- the more expensive kind that is very difficult to be erased. Note that I am not implying that any one allegedly, reportedly, rumoredly, gossipedly, accusedly, impliedly called a J___ass would commit voter fraud. (Also note how politically correct I was.) Jerry Vaught
X February 25, 2012 at 02:41 PM
And yet again we have a comment designed to cast dispersion against someone who has absolutely no motivation to misstate the tabulation results. Her firm is an independent third-party hired to perform the tabulation function. The fact that Patch allows such baseless allegations to stand is disturbing. If you have evidence that she has a vested interest in the outcome or has committed any voter fraud in her earlier tabulations then please come forward with such evidence. Otherwise, your comment contributes little to the conversation other than to needlessly attack someone attempting to earn an honest living.
Dennis Wanken February 25, 2012 at 02:41 PM
This is a "no brainier". All 5 of my NO vote ballots are in the mail.
Susan R. February 25, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I received my ballot in the mail, and it says that the proposed fee for my parcel is $39.60...a bit more than your article states. I'm in Orinda, so perhaps since the fees are differentiated by "what communities could bear to pay in a parcel tax," Orindans are to carry a heavier load...
Bruce R. Peterson February 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I took my NO vote to Martinez, where the nice Clerk for the Board of Supervisors told me to but it into a shiny steel lock box. She still does not have the information typed up from the February 7th meeting. In all appearances the meeting was a sham. I was at the meeting, front & center, taking notes.. The next day, the obviously corrupt, Contra Costa Times ran a story that was total hogwash. The nice Clerk of The Board read the Times story while I was filling out the info request form on Friday.. She yelled BULL-----. My annual tax/fee is $39.60. A nice man who owns a historical ranch in Danville, showed me his annual fee of $601. A family with boat storage buildings in Bethel Island, has an annual tax/fee over $3,000. This subject has been on halfwaytoconcord.com for two weeks..
Lafayette Curmudgeon February 25, 2012 at 03:38 PM
It's based on the amount of impervious surface (e.g., buildings and driveways) on your lot, which I suppose is a fair proxy for impact of a given lot.
Larry Pines February 25, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Our debt-strapped County is paying $1.6 Mill in tax consultant fees to (illegally?) stretch Prop 218, declaring the entire County a "Benefit Assessment District", to bypass the normal 2/3 voting rules & procedures. With a "BAD" tax they avoid opposing ballot arguments and normal election rules. Every taxpayer organization that has looked at this (including ACCT, CCTA, LTA, and others) opposes this tax hike: • It duplicates the taxes on our bills, cleverly listed as "Federal Stormwater (sic) A-13", yet funds treating rain water from our roofs, roads, and parking lots, as does the larger tax to Central San for sewer (this is #3.) •The "fee" was set by pollsters, who measured people's willingness to pay, so East County property owners are taxed much lower than Lamorinda's. •This is not a trivial tax, as commercial property owners are taxed on all parking areas, sidewalks, roofs, etc., yet can pass it through to struggling businesses, who in turn will increase costs to us. •There is no science in the findings of "need" or talk of trying screens on all storm drains. That requires armies of workers to prevent constant floods (think leaves). •Our County liability, for employee pension and retiree health care benefits, totals a staggering $2.4 billion - roughly equal to 5 years of base salary for county workers. That's $2,300 for each county resident. (Even the love-every-tax Contra Costa Times now admits that much: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_19889562 )
Dan DeBusschere February 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Mine was the same - so you are not alone. Easy No to this one.
My Kids Dad February 25, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Did they spend 1.5MM or 1.5MM per year on these studies to figure out how to raise an $8MM tax? What is their existing budgtet? Are these the same federal standards that is causing EBMUD to spend millions on extra cleaning facilities to make the water cleaner than mother nature does? If this is such a no brainer then why don't they allow dissenting opinion and run it through the normal election process. I'm voting NO. But we better start working on changing the federal standards or these assaults on our pocket book will only continue. EBMUD, the 22 county assessment districts, who next - the garbage company????
Chris Nicholson February 25, 2012 at 10:01 PM
The nature of environmentalism is that "good enough" never is, according to them. When we reach a certain level, they raise the bar. No one ever pauses to ask "is there a real incremental benefit to humans that is worth the incremental cost/tax/effort/regulation." This feels like such a case. Where in the county is our drinking water not already "safe enough?" Those who demand 100.00% pure water should distill their own...
Larry Pines February 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Chris, even framing the issue the way you have (eloquently), is playing into the hands of consultant propogandists. The tax at hand has nothing whatsoever to do with drinking water. The additional County funding (IF you believe the $8-9 Mill/yr + built-in yearly increases) supposedly funds more/better waste water "treatment." In other words, it's purportedly going to the "storm water" system, run by Central San (County Sanitary/Sewer) for rain water runoff going to creeks, and then to the Bay & Pacific Ocean. The "experts" claim we have too much litter making it into our storm drains. All the environmental regs YOU are referring to, address our drinking water system. However, this 3rd sanitary/sewer tax won't add a penny to drinking water systems like Contra Costa Water District (different entity; not County) and EBMUD. Also, be aware, this new added street sewer tax, like all the other special purpose taxes and assessments on our tax bills, is no longer tax deductible, per Jerry Brown's recent Franchise Tax Board ruling. So if it passes, like all the other line items on our Property Tax bills, we can no longer take tax deductions for those local taxes. The FTB has been ordered to commence widespread audits of all those deductions, starting with the tax returns due this April. Road, cop, education, BART & EBRPD, etc. tax advocates should be so informed as well ! No one is talking about this. Starting this year, they have us "coming and going."
Larry Pines February 27, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Guy, great point. This expanded LTE lays out the coming onslaught of pay-more-for-less property taxes driven by a $2.2 Billion unfunded County pension liability that is beginning to erode services across the board. http://lamorinda.patch.com/articles/letters-county-storm-water-tax-hike-more-about-sewage-than-clean-water


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