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YES = Clean Water + Balanced Budget
August 2008 | Editorial


This week the City of Del Mar is distributing a ballot package by mail to all Del Mar property owners and water customers. On this ballot are two important questions. The first question asks for a yes or no vote to ratify the City's clean-water charge that appeared on all water bills beginning in 2004. The second question asks for a yes or no vote to increase the amount of the clean water charge, beginning July, 2009. We urge you to vote YES on both questions and to return the completed ballots by the September 15 deadline. Every vote will count in this election.

A vote YES on both ballot questions is a vote for clean water and a balanced City budget.

Why is this mailed ballot election necessary? Simply, the first ballot question arises because of uncertainty over procedural requirements for new or increased fees and charges under Proposition 218 approved by California voters in 1996. The City of Del Mar followed the widely held interpretation of these procedures in 2003 with its first clean-water charge. But a 2006 decision by the California Supreme Court overruled that interpretation, thus necessitating this mailed ballot election to ratify the City's earlier action.

The second ballot question arises because of increasing requirements imposed by the State, acting under the federal Clean Water Act, on ALL local governments. Under these new requirements, local governments must take further steps to reduce pollution into our streams, lagoons and beaches from storm drain runoff.

The City has no choice but to comply with the State's unfunded mandate. But doing so will substantially increase the program costs – by an estimated $100,000 annually – not including indirect overhead costs. Voting no on this question will not mean Del Mar can avoid these additional costs – the money will have to come from other thinly stretched programs and services. We believe the proposed 2009 increase in the clean-water charge is both reasonable and necessary.

(The federal Clean Water Act, first approved by Congress in 1972, has succeeded in cleaning up our lakes, rivers and streams. Initially, the program required point source polluters – factories, businesses and sewer plants – to stop discharging polluting materials into the nation's waterways and to start using “best practices” to prevent further pollution. Additionally municipal storm drain systems carry storm water and irrigation runoff containing major pollutants from our streets and homes to our beaches and lagoons. In 1987, Congress mandated local governments to begin reducing storm drain pollution - but did not provide financial assistance.)

The federal and State governments contend it is local government's responsibility to clean up its own (municipal storm drain) act. We believe Del Mar's clean-water charge is a fair price to pay for reducing pollution runoff from our streets and homes.



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