Encinitas coffers flush despite clean-water costs
Let's review why Prop C, the fake clean water tax, was bogus.
Encinitas is a beach town and it's most popular tourist beach, Moonlight Beach, has an outfall from Cottonwood Creek which comes down Encinitas Blvd right next to the children's Tot Lot playground.
It is in the city's best interest to keep the Cottonwood Creek clean.
Encinitas Blvd is lined with hotels, motels, gas stations with car washes, restaurants and shopping centers. All of which have runoff into Cottonwood Creek and all of which were exempt from the clean water tax.
One of the biggest contributers to urban runoff is golf courses. The Encinitas Ranch golf course at the top of Leucadia Blvd was also exempt from the proposed clean water tax.
The city wanted home owners to subsidize the state mandated program. The city began charging home owners with water meters an extra fee. As it turned out, some people were getting charged while others were not. It was a confusing unfair mess.
The Howard Jarvis group sued the city of Encinitas saying this fee violated Prop 218. Howard Jarvis won the lawsuit. The city scrambled. They would put this tax to a vote of the people.
What followed was a comedy of errors as city council members said out loud that they were against the fee but voted it forward anyway. They said the city could afford the clean water program but the city needed money for the library. Then city manager Kerry Miller played many scare tactics with chicken little announcements about the city budget. However, some weeks he would say the budget was fine.
DEMA member Steve Aceti became the public spokesman and advocate for the clean water fee. Many guess that this was his chance to get his name out there so he could eventually run for Encinitas city council. Aceti would later clash with Encinitas Taxpayer's Association president, Bill Rodewald. Aceti accused Rodewald of only being against Prop C because Rodewald planned at run at Encinitas city council in 2006. Rodewald denied this and did not seek election. The North County Times recently reported that Aceti may run for Encinitas city council in 2008 Steve Aceti moving to Encinitas, entertaining 2008 council run
The city hired a fancy lobbyist/marketing firm to the tune of $100,000 for Prop C propaganda.
This money was poorly spent as word of mouth spread about the deceitful nature of Prop C and Prop C was crushed at the polls.
The city sent refund checks to home owners, giving back the illegally collected water bill fee. Unfortunately this was a confusing mess and some home owners who never paid a fee reported receiving refund checks while others never received a refund.
After the defeat of Prop C then mayor Christy Guerin chided that the city would only do the barest minimum requirements of the state mandated clean water program. It was widely known that this is what they were doing anyway.
Now, the city of Encinitas is gushing over a "newly discovered" windfall of property taxes and is adding employees and a vehicle to the clean water program. If only they had that wasted $100,000 they paid to that marketing firm to add to it.
Prop C was only 5 bucks a month (for a time, it would have gone up) but the Prop C defeat wasn't about 5 bucks. It was a symbolic breaking point between an aggressive city council and the home owners.
This story is the reason why every taxpayer in Encinitas should join the Encinitas Taxpayers Association. ETA website
Leucadia!: "a fee with a name that made us feel good"