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Local Government Statement Regarding Filing of California Water Conservation, Flood Control and Stormwater Management Act

Measure Would Establish a New Optional Funding Method Local Agencies Can Use for Stormwater Management and Flood Control Projects and Establishment of Rates to Encourage Conservation and Protect Low-Income Customers

December 15, 2015
On Monday, Dec. 14, the Association of California Water Agencies, the California State Association of Counties, and the League of California Cities® filed a constitutional amendment with the Attorney General’s office.
 
The measure would create a new, optional funding method local agencies can use to finance stormwater management and flood control projects, set rates for customers to encourage conservation and reduce water and sewer bills for low-income customers. The measure includes strict accountability and transparency requirements for any local agency that chooses to avail itself of this new funding method.

The following statement can be attributed to ACWA, CSAC and the League:
                                                                                                 
“California’s historic drought and the likelihood of more severe droughts and heavy floods make it critical for local communities to have the tools needed to meet 21st century water management challenges. Those tools will help agencies to further encourage conservation and discourage excessive use of water; effectively capture, clean and eliminate pollution from local water sources; better protect people and property from the dangers of floods; and assist low-income customers.
 
“This measure recognizes current water realities and would create a new optional funding method local governments can use at their sole discretion to establish conservation pricing, to finance flood control and stormwater management, and to reduce charges for low-income consumers. To protect taxpayers, the measure includes a robust set of new accountability requirements for any local agencies that choose to utilize this new funding method.
 
“We have filed this measure in the hopes of advancing the discussions toward a viable policy solution in 2016. We will make a determination if we plan to proceed with this measure or some other policy solution in the coming months.”
 
Information about the California Water Conservation, Flood Control and Stormwater Management Act:
  • Constitutional amendment would establish a new, optional funding method that authorizes local agencies to:
    • Set rates for customers to encourage water conservation, prevent waste and discourage excessive use of water;
    • Levy fees and charges, subject to ratepayer protest, for flood control and for management of stormwater to protect coastal waters, rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater and other sources of drinking water from contamination; and
    • Use fees and charges to reduce water and sewer fees and charges for low-income customers. 
  • Any local agency that utilizes this optional funding method for water service and sewer service would be required to adhere to strict accountability, transparency and ratepayer protections. This includes:
    • Providing local ratepayers with a description of the services and facilities projected to be funded by any proposed fee or charge in advance of any public hearing or consideration of the fee or charge;
    • Posting the description of the proposal on the agency’s Internet website with all applicable exhibits;
    • Providing local ratepayers a notice of the date and time of the public hearing the local agency will hold on the proposed fee and charges;
    • If written protests against the fee or charge are presented by a majority of persons to whom the local agency sent the notice about the proposal, then the local agency shall not impose, increase or extend the fee or charge;
    • All money must be spent for the local purpose for which the fee or charge was imposed and cannot be taken by state government;
    • Revenues derived from the fee or charge shall not exceed the reasonable cost to the local agency of providing the water or sewer service or be used for any purpose other than that for which it was imposed;
    • The manner in which the costs are allocated to a fee payer shall bear a fair or reasonable relationship to the fee payer’s burden or benefits received from the water service or sewer service;
    • The initiative power of voters may be used to repeal or reduce the fee or charge in the future with the filing of a petition calling for an election on the question; and
    • Independent annual audits shall be made available to the public showing how all funds are spent.                                                   
  • This new, optional funding method will allow local agencies to invest in the water supplies, water quality, flood protection and water management and conservation programs we need, while guaranteeing a high level of accountability and ratepayer protections.


 
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