Feb. 22, 2012

Good Afternoon:

Today or tomorrow you will be receiving a ballot in the mail. You may or may not have been aware of the Prop 218 “fee” for Clean Water. The ballots will be hitting the mail boxes of property owners, NOT voters. The “ballot” will not be coming from the Contra Costa County Elections Office (and yes, I have already been called by people asking me if this is legitimate). As you can see from the attached copy of the envelope, this looks more like one of the insincere advertisements that try to lure you to open it by saying you will be voting for something . The return address is not the County.

After taking a serious look at this fee, CoCoTAX decided to oppose it for a number of reasons which include, but are certainly not limited, to the following:
** The numbers generated for the “fee” were built up from guesstimates and questionable numbers for public outreach.
** The county is divided into 3 sections for different fee rates, but those differences seem to have more to do with what a poll showed the various areas would support in the way of a fee.
** You are already paying for this fee (see your property tax bill) but they want more money. When the question was asked during the public hearing why this particular fee would end after ten years, my answer was then they could raise it higher than the allowed annual increase they have allotted themselves.
** This is not a trivial fee. While they talk about small amounts for most homeowners (on top of the $30 fee you are already paying), businesses that have parking lots or lots of roof surfaces pay quite a bit and those “fees” will be passed on to you.
** There is no science that actually supports what they are promising to do in many instances.
** While they pretend that this is specific to your property, it is a generality. For example, I live on a flat area and there are no street drains. Nothing leaves my property, it all soaks in, but I am being charged nevertheless.
** This method of using an outside vendor to do a fee in order to avoid the 2/3 vote of a parcel tax, while it is legal, was designed to make it much more likely this would pass.

One of the speakers at the hearing (at Board of Stupes) on this fee was an elderly woman who brought in her tax bill and told everyone she was on a fixed income. She listed all of the things that were being increased (and this was before gas hit $4.10) and how she would have to give things up to pay these various increases. Very sad.

Please take a look at the envelope and be sure and vote and let your neighbors and friends know as well.

As a reminder, this is one of the fees (like all parcel taxes as well) that are NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE.


Kris Hunt
Executive Director
Contra Costa Taxpayers Association