Management of the Novato Sanitary District, Measure F (June 2010)
Administration of Government
|Not on ballot|
The ballot measure let voters have the final say over the decision by the board of the Novato Sanitary District to turn over the management and operation of its new $90 million wastewater treatment plant to Veolia Water. Supporters of the Veolia contract said that the contract would save the district $7.2 million versus alternative management deals.
The California Healthy Communities Network, based in Martinez, turned in over 4,000 petition signatures on October 15, 2009 to qualify the veto referendum for the ballot. 2,178 valid signatures were required.
At the time of the Measure F victory, Novato Sanitary District primarily served residents of Novato, a city of about 52,000 residents located about 30 miles north of San Francisco.
A "yes" vote was a vote to enter into a contract with Veolia Water to manage the sanitary district. A "no" vote was a vote against the contract with Veolia Water.
- These final, certified results are from the Marin County elections office.
Supporters of Measure F said that the contract with Veolia Water would keep sewer rates low and maintain local control of wastewater facilities.
Arguments in the official voter guide in favor of Measure F were signed by:
- Martha Patsy White, past president, League of Women Voters
- J. Deitrich Stroeh, director/partner, CSW-ST2 Engineering
- Phillip Brown, retired manager, City of Novato
- Patty Bennett, Novato youth and schools advocate
- James D. Fritz, retired chief engineer, water district
Opponents of the contract with Veolia Water said that the contract would turn the treatment plant into a corporate profit center, that there were hidden costs and that the projected savings were speculative.
Arguments in the official voter guide opposed to Measure F were signed by:
- Dennis Welsh, Novato Sanitary District board member
- Basia Crane, president, on behalf of the Marin United Taxpayer Association
- Lynne Wasley, vice-chairman, on behalf of the Novato Democratic Club
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|"Shall the Novato Sanitary District's approval of the contract entitled 'Novato Sanitary District Contract Service Agreement for Operations, Maintenance and Management of Wastewater Treatment Facilities' be adopted?"|
In September 2009, the board had approved a different ballot title by a 3-2 vote. The September question was, "Shall Novato Sanitary District's approval of the contract entitled 'Novato Sanitary District Contract Service Agreement for Operation, Maintenance, and Management of Wastewater Treatment Facilities' be repealed?"
Board members Dennis Welsh and George Quesada, who opposed the district's contract giving management control to Veolia Water, voted against the ballot title in September, saying it was confusing. Welsh said that the language should be worded so that voting "yes" means "I want the contract with Veolia" and voting "no" means "I don't approve of the contract with Veolia".
The law firm that was assisting the group that opposed the Veolia contract also said it believed the September 2009 ballot title was both confusing and non-compliant with California's election law. The law firm indicated it expected to be able to wage a successful lawsuit against it if the board gives its final approval to the ballot question it initially approved in September. However, in March 2010, the board made the change to the ballot title that Welsh and Quesada requested in September 2009.
The Novato Sanitary District had a tumultuous 2009:
- May 2009: $514,000 is pilfered from the district's Bank of Marin account via hackers. The district has now recovered most of the money.
- Federal agents working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criminal investigation unit raided the offices of the Novato Sanitary District. The raid was about an investigation into environmental violations said to have occurred in 2006 and 2007.
The events leading up to the possible referendum began in July:
- July 27: The Novato Sanitary District board voted to privatize the management of the new wastewater treatment plant.
- September 21: The district signed a five-year contract with Veolia, a French company.
- October 5: Veolia took over operations at the plant.
- October 15: The California Healthy Communities Network turned in 4,000+ signatures to qualify their referendum vote for the ballot.
- October 29: The Marin County registrar of voters announced that enough signtures were valid to qualify the question for the ballot.
- Official text of Measure F
- Website of the Novato Sanitary District
- California Healthy Communities Network
- Marin Independent Journal, "Novato Sanitary referendum heads to ballot June 8, 2010", November 24, 2009
- Marin Independent Journal, "Novato Sanitary District board OKs June referendum wording", March 9, 2010
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Cite error: Invalid
- NBC Bay Area, "See what is on the Marin County ballot", May 27, 2010
- Contra Costa Times, "Dispute arises over Novato Sanitary referendum", February 19, 2010
- News Blaze, "Bay Taxpayer Revolt", October 15, 2009
- Contra Costa Times, "Novato Sanitary referendum gets green light", October 30, 2009