The Citrus Heights Water District Board of Directors passed a resolution opposing Senate Bill 623 at its February 21st Board meeting. SB 623, authored by State Senator Bill Monning of Carmel, proposes the first-ever statewide water tax as a way to address a lack of access to safe drinking water for some people who live in rural, disadvantaged communities.
“CHWD agrees that there is a need for a sensible long-term funding solution to assist disadvantaged communities that do not have safe drinking water, but a tax on our customers’ water bill is not the appropriate solution,” stated Ray Riehle, CHWD Board president.
If passed by the State legislature, this tax could hamper CHWD efforts to maintain safe and reliable water infrastructure for its customers. It would also compromise local decision making and redirect local rate payer dollars to water projects outside of the Citrus Heights service area.
CHWD takes the position that assessing a public goods charge would unfairly penalize local water agencies that have already made, and continue to make, investments in water management programs and infrastructure and would make it more difficult and costly for local water agencies to fund critical local water efficiency and supply projects.
The CHWD Board of Directors believes that local control of District resources is vital to continue meeting the needs of their customers; and the District, not the State, should determine how to spend locally generated revenues to benefit CHWD customers.
CHWD has joined with its local partners, the Regional Water Authority (RWA) and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) in supporting alternative solutions to fund needed assistance to disadvantaged communities. Those solutions include making use of the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), issuing a General Obligation Bond, drawing from an agriculture fund that is proposed to be set up by imposing a fee on nitrate related products, or drawing
from the State’s general fund. CHWD agrees that everyone in California should have access to safe drinking water.
CHWD believes that local elected officials know best how to spend locally-generated rate payer dollars. An additional tax on water bills that is sent to Sacramento, where a portion will be carved out to fund another layer of administration, is not efficient and is not an appropriate solution or sound policy.