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Consolidation of the Southern Marin Sanitary District, Measure C (May 2013)

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A Consolidation of the Southern Marin Sanitary District, Measure C ballot question was on the May 7, 2013 ballot for voters in the Alto, Almonte, Homestead Valley and Richardson Sanitary Districts in Marin County, where it was defeated.[1]

This measure would have consolidated the Alto, Almonte, Homestead Valley and Richardson Sanitary Districts into one district called the Southern Marin Sanitary District. This new district will be governed by a five member board. For the first two years, a member representing each of the old districts will be on the board, but after two years the board members will be elected at large.

The election was held on a mail-in basis only, with ballots going out on April 8 and returned by May 7 to count.[1]

Election results

Measure C
District: Yes No
Votes  % Votes  %
Alto Sanitary District 72 49.32% 74 50.68%
Almonte Sanitary District 166 47.98 % 180 52.02%
Homestead Valley District 259 44.20% 327 55.80%
Richardson Bay District 706 65.78% 1357 34.22%
Totals: 1,203 38.3% 1,938 61.7%
These final certified results are from the Marin County Elections Office.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Measure C: Shall the order adopted on September 13, 2012 by the Local Agency Formation Commission of the County of Marin, ordering the consolidation of the Alto, Almonte, Homestead Valley and Richardson Bay Sanitary Districts into a single district known as the Southern Marin Sanitary District be confirmed subject to the terms and conditions specified in the order?

Support

  • LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MARIN COUNTY, Marjory Eller, President
  • MARIN LOCAL AGENCY FORMATION COMMISSION, Jeffry Blanchfield, Chairman

The following argument was submitted by Marjory Eller and Jeffry Blanchfield in support of Measure C:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Rising sea levels, aging collection systems and deferred maintenance are among the infrastructure problems facing Southern Marin that must be addressed based on region-wide priorities. This consolidation provides the most effective governance arrangement to achieve that goal. That is why Marin Local Agency Formation Commission, an independent agency, approved this consolidation in a 6-1 vote. They concluded, after extensive study, that (1) operating costs of sewer service would be reduced due to economies of scale and (2) government accountability would be improved.

  • ECONOMIES CREATED BY CONSOLIDATION of sewer services provide for increased buying power, replacing management personnel with operating personnel, centralization of common functions, faster response time to spills and faster adoption of operational improvements.
  • SMALLER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. The four limited-purpose districts are among the county’ssmallest. Almonte district’s population is only 1,064, and Alto’s a mere 928. The total for all four districts is 14,819. Together they incur the overhead of 20 board members, 4 managers, and 48 meetings per year. The stipends and staff time required to support such top-heavy governance are duplicative. • EXISTING RATES WILL NOT BE AFFECTED BY

CONSOLIDATION. Each district’s assets are protected under enforceable terms and conditions of LAFCO’s approval.

  • “LOCAL CONTROL” IS ACTUALLY ENHANCED BY CONSOLIDATION. Citizen participation is only meaningful if the activities and decisions of an elected board are known to its constituents and attract their involvement. Public participation in meetings of these districts is negligible.
  • THERE HAVE BEEN NO CONTESTED ELECTIONS IN MORE THAN TEN YEARS. Maintaining separate districts clearly does not contribute to political accountability. The Tamalpais and Alto Richardson Bay Fire Districts were consolidated into the Southern Marin Fire District in 1999, creating significant cost savings without loss of

local control. We are confident this sewer district consolidation will be equally successful.[1]

Opposition

  • ROGER GAINER, Director
  • STANLEY JAMES BRANSGROVE, Director-Chair

The following argument was submitted by Roger Gainer and Stanley James Bransgrove in opposition to Measure C:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

All four affected sanitary districts oppose the County LAFCO’s attempt to force their consolidation. This merger would remove local control of our sanitary districts. After a transition period during which Alto will have representation, at-large elections will result in dominance of the new board by the district with the largest population –Richardson Bay. Alto’s reserve funds, the sewer service assessments levied on our residents, and our system rehabilitation program will be under control of a board on which Alto has no representation.

Alto already collaborates, to save money, with Richardson Bay and the other districts whenever possible in our maintenance and rehabilitation programs. Richardson Bay doesn’t want consolidation either, and has stated that under consolidation it would be forced to add staff to perform the additional work. The present managers of Alto, Almonte and Homestead Valley are part-time employees who work from home and receive no fringe benefits. Eliminating them would require hiring a full time employee with fringe benefits, and providing him/her with an office and miscellaneous equipment. WHERE’S THE SAVING?

The “saving” LAFCO cites is elimination of board stipends. Directors receive $100.00 per meeting,for an annual cost of $6,000.00. Loss of accountable local control should be worth more!

During the past fifteen years we have replaced over 3,300 feet of old clay sewers with modern high-strength plastic pipe, resulting in a dramatic reduction of sewage over-flows to the point where there have been no reportable spills in the past two years. We had to raise our sewer service tax assessments to pay for this, but Alto’s rate remains among the lowest in the County. We contend that funding and management of Alto’s future rehabilitation projects should be controlled by residents of Alto, not by a Board of outsiders.

RETAIN LOCAL CONTROL! VOTE “NO” ON CONSOLIDATION![1]

See also

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