City of Paso Robles Water Use Fees Referendum, Measure A (November 2009)
The question on the ballot was, "Shall the City Council's approval of Ordinance No. 953 N.S., increasing monthly water user rates effective January 1, 2010, where the rate for water users shall be a combination of a fixed rate plus a variable rate based on consumption, and where the variable rate component shall be further adjusted every January 1, up to, and including, January 1, 2014, be ratified?"
On January 20, 2009, the City Council of Paso Robles voted for an increase in water rates that opponents say will cause residential water rates to rise by 33% beginning in 2010 (from $1.32 to $1.75 per unit of water used), and to increase more than 250% after that (from $1.32 today to $3.33 per unit used).
The city's rate increase, according to a local newspaper, would raise the average family’s monthly water bill to $49.95 in 2010 and to $63.65 in 2013.
"Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles" (CCPR) forced an election on the rate increase by collecting signatures equalling 11.3% of registered voters in the city.
The increased water rates are intended to pay for the city’s share of the Nacimiento Water Project.
Water use fees lawsuit
In addition to circulating a petition to put a measure on the ballot that would potentially overturn the city council's vote on a rate increase, CCPR also filed a lawsuit in May 2009 which says the city violated Proposition 218 from 1996 when it started imposing water fee increases in past years without first obtaining voter approval. Proposition 218 mandates a public review and protest process for some new fees.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking an $8 million-plus refund for the approximately 10,000 customers who paid the higher rates.
- Election results
- Resolution authorizing a special election on Measure A
- Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles, opponents of the new water fees.
- Paso Robles Press, "City Council, advisory bodies examine Paso’s water campaign", June 18, 2008
- San Luis Obispo Tribune, "Arguments sought on Paso water vote", June 30, 2009
- San Luis Obispo Tribune, "Paso Robles seeks to dismiss lawsuit over water and sewer rate increases", May 5, 2009