City of Paso Robles Water Use Fees Referendum, Measure A (November 2009)

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A City of Paso Robles Water Use Fees Referendum, Measure A ballot question was on the November 3, 2009 ballot for voters in the City of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, where it was defeated.

On January 20, 2009, the City Council of Paso Robles voted for an increase in water rates that opponents said would 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).[1]

A "no" vote on Measure A was a vote to repudiate the city council's proposed increase in water rates.

The city's rate increase, according to a local newspaper, would have raised the average family’s monthly water bill to $49.95 in 2010 and to $63.65 in 2013.[2]

"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.[2]

The increased water rates were intended to pay for the city’s share of the Nacimiento Water Project.[2]

Election results

Measure A
Defeatedd No3,16854.37%
Yes 2,659 45.63%
These final, certified, results are from the San Luis Obispo County elections office.

Water use fees lawsuit

In addition to circulating a petition to put a measure on the ballot to overturn the city council's vote on a rate increase, CCPR also filed a lawsuit in May 2009 which said 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.[3]

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit sought an $8 million-plus refund for the approximately 10,000 customers who paid the higher rates.[4]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure A: "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?"[5]

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