Rohnert Park Sewer Rate Rollback, Measure L (November 2008)

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A City of Rohnert Park Sewer Rate Rollback Initiative, Measure L ballot question was on the November 4, 2008 ballot for voters in the City of Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, California, where it was approved.

The objective of those who collected signatures to put the measure on the ballot was to save Rohnert Park households about $20 a month in taxes and fees by rolling back sewer rates to 2006 levels. The sewer rate was $60.85 a month for a home discharging 5,500 gallons a month. Under Measure L, it was reduced to $42.13.

Opponents of Measure L said after the election they would take Measure L to court on the grounds that "We frankly feel only the judicial system is equipped to deal with the question of whether voters can roll back rates to where the levels are less than the cost of operating the system," according to Dan Schwarz, Rohnert Park's interim city manager.

About the sewer fee

At the time of the vote on Measure L, Rohnert Park was collecting about $11.8 million a year in sewer fees. Its largest expense was $7.5 million to Santa Rosa for wastewater treatment and for a share of the cost of The Geysers pipeline.

The sewer rates in place at that time also generated $1 million to the city to cover administration costs and $815,000 a year for the repayment of $13 million in bonds.

Election results

Measure L
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 8,424 52.8%
No7,53347.2%
These final, certified, election results are from the Sonoma County elections office.

Supporters

Measure L was supported by the Rohnert Park Utility Consumers Coalition. According to the group's website:

"This organization was formed in the Summer of 2008. Its initial task is to promote the passage of the sewer rate roll back measure that has qualified for the November 2008 in Rohnert Park. The reason for the measure is that it is the official policy of the City of Rohnert Park to include the cost of expanding the sewer system in sewer user fees charged to existing ratepayers. Only developers need an expanded sewer system."

Opponents

Mailer sent out opposing L

Protect Rohnert Park was the group formed to oppose L. The campaign sent out mailers to residents of Rohnert Park urging them to vote "no" on the grounds that unless L was defeated, the city would be "on the road to Bankruptcy."

"Protect Rohnert Park" received at least $40,000 in donations. The two major donors were:

  • Codding Enterprises, Inc., a real estate development company, $20,000.
  • Rohnert Park Disposal, $20,000.
Campaign contribution report for opponents of L

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure L: "Shall the ordinance to reduce City of Rohnert Park's current sewer service rates to rates in effect on January 1, 2006, be adopted?"[1]

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