Contra Costa County Attempts Parcel Tax for Clean Water Program

Residents of Contra Costa County will have an opportunity to vote on another parcel tax of $12 to $22 per house per year, however, this time it will be from the Board of Supervisors to help meet more stringent federal clean water and storm water runoff regulations.

The parcel tax will be countywide to all 19 cities that already pay a share based on populations.  Proposed fees in the Contra Costa Clean Water Initiative vary based on location. Central Contra Costa property owners will pay the highest rates, at $22 a year per house. East Contra Costa County residents would pay $12 per house. Commercial landowners will pay based on a formula.

But experts estimate the coalition will be short $14 million in the next five years in its work to reduce pollution in water that runs off parking lots, buildings and other urban structures


This is actually quite stunning this proposed parcel tax plan is being put out by the media with no defined purpose of what the money will be used for—specifically what is the relationship between new regulations and what has to be updated or changed?

What is interesting to me is this is a “vote by mail” campaign. This is a tactic that makes it somewhat easier to reach the 2/3 threshold rather than during an actual election where most people vote. However, the article released makes it unclear if 2/3 is the threshold or why they give a cutoff of April 6.

Some questions I have off the top of my head include the following:

  • How did the government come up with the new requirement?
  • What are the new requirements vs. current requirements?
  • How do these changes affect the everyday citizen?
  • Clean water is a loose term right now, what is the long-term goal?
  • What is the type of accountability the Federal Government is requiring of the county?
  • Why did the Federal Government not take into account the cost to implement?
  • If they implement a parcel tax, will that even be enough new revenue?
  • If this does pass, what is to ensure this money stays with this program and not stolen for something else?
  • Rather than tax the citizen, what could be cut?
  • Why not hold this vote on an actual election date? Why a vote by mail?

I would hope that the Board of Supervisors would put out more information that specifically identifies the purpose, budget usages and accountability. The voters deserve to know what the money will be used for and why it is needed.

While I understand $12 is not a lot of money—just $1 per month—but include this tax on the many other parcel tax attempt and it’s suddenly a very large tax increase next year.  To think there is not one County Supervisor who voted against this plan is a shame.

Let’s hope more information will be presented to the public in the coming weeks based off the unanimous decision to try to tax each Contra Costa County resident more money.


About burkforoakley

I call it like I see it . I love my city, I love my community and I want what is best for the people around me. Do the right thing, I will support you. Do the wrong thing, I will oppose you!
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