Sacramento Bee Adds Voice to Call for Measure O, No on Measure P

Davis-Mailer-2014b-1Last week, the Davis Enterprise gave a qualified endorsement of the Yes on Measure O and No on Measure P positions. This week, the Sacramento Bee editorial board made a stronger endorsement of Measure O and No on Measure P.

On Measure O, the Bee writes, “The equation behind Measure O is simple math: A well-run city plus years of deep budget cuts equals a justifiable request to extend a half-cent city sales tax for four years, until 2020, and increase it by another half-cent.”

The Bee continues, “The measure would raise about $3.6 million a year, which the city desperately needs to keep operating without having to curtail basic services any further. The city has already put off crucial maintenance to roads and parks, and reduced its workforce by about a quarter.”

“Opponents to the measure lay the blame for fiscal problems on the City Council,” the Bee writes, though they would be better served explicating the difference between the culpability in the previous councils to the good work they identify in the current council where they write, “Not only is it not true, the current council has done an admirable job responding to the recent economic downturn and the resulting years of revenue shortfalls.”

“Still, approval of the measure will not relieve the council from having to make some hard decisions about next year’s budget, particularly when negotiating contracts with city workers. Even with extra sales tax revenue, the city expects a $1.5 million deficit,” the Bee correctly points out. “Measure O gives city leaders some breathing room to make smart decisions about restructuring the city’s finances.”

The Bee also opposes Measure P.

“This measure would repeal the higher water rates the council passed last year as part of the multimillion-dollar Davis-Woodland Surface Water Project – and put the future of this important project in jeopardy,” they write.

“The supporters of the measure contend that the project’s consumption-based water rates are too high and unfair to single-family homeowners,” they write, “These are not new arguments, and come from the same group of people who tried unsuccessfully numerous times to fight the project and kill the new rates. Voters endorsed Measure I last year, clearing the way for the rates. Opponents need to let it go.”

“Besides, it makes sense to base rates on summer water use, when hot weather requires the soaking of lawns and filling of pools,” they add. “And the rates must account for more than just the cost of water; a significant investment is necessary to keep the taps flowing for years to come. Davis’ novel approach to paying for its water and water infrastructure should be celebrated for its sustainability, not demonized.”

However, they add, “City officials should continue to review the impact of the new rates to make sure they are accomplishing goals and not unduly penalizing any one group of users. If future rates need to be adjusted, that should be directed by elected officials, not by the ballot box.”

They note, “The biggest concern with Measure P is that it could threaten the viability of the entire water project. Without the revenue from the new rate structure, Public Works Director Herb Niederberger says, the city would not be able to pay its share and, if it defaults, could be liable to the city of Woodland for $50 million. Davis can’t afford to risk the water project by repealing even one part of it.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Tia Will

    ““The biggest concern with Measure P is that it could threaten the viability of the entire water project. ”

    And this is, I believe the goal of the majority of the proponents of Measure P based on their previous actions and statements.

  2. Polly Ticks

    Tia, speaking for myself only, my problem with the current CBFR is that I do not see how it can achieve the stated goal of encouraging water users to conserve. There are many reasons, but the simplest one is that the consequence (higher bills) comes several months after the water usage, and so conserving water when the higher bills hit won’t change the “supply fee” that will be the major part of the bill. (I am basing this on the city’s How To Estimate Your Water Charge, the CBFR example; it says the typical home will spend $9.46 on the variable charge — water consumed during the period of the bill — and $32.64 on the supply fee — the part based on the previous summer’s consumption).

    Some proponents of the CBFR seem to realize this. In another thread, dlemongello said “I have devised a way to maintain the revenue precisely as needed and bill for the water used when it is used through all seasons, not looking back. Matt and I will be presenting this method to the Utility Rate Advisory Commission ASAP.” (See the thread under the article “Measure P: Sue Greenwald versus Ed Schroeder” posted by David Greenwald on May 11.)

    Given this, I don’t think the advocates of Measure P are completely off the wall.

  3. Tia Will


    With regard to John Munn’s position, I think there is a disconnect between his words and his actions. I believe that
    Mr. Munn is an honorable individual who believes that he is acting in the best interest of the city. I also believe that he sees no conflict in saying that his goal is not to destroy the water project while following a course of action that could have that effect. Mr. Munn seems to feel that since it is not his intent to destroy the water project, if that is the outcome, it is somehow not related to his actions. I disagree with his position on this but do not doubt his sincerity.

    My belief is that even if it is not one’s motivation, once you know that an action will lead to a given result, if one persists with that action, it doesn’t matter what the initial intent was, one is still responsible for the consequences.

  4. Tia Will

    Polly Ticks

    If the only purpose of the CBFR where to incentivize water conservation I might be more favorable to your idea.
    This is not the sole purpose.
    If this had been the sole objection of the Yes on P group, I might also have been more favorable to their position.
    The Yes on P group, taken as a whole, have made attempt after attempt to block not just the rates but the water project itself . Given their relentless opposition to the project, I do not see their current actions regarding rates ( which can always be revisited and changed as Rochelle Swanson pointed out at last nights forum) as a fight for fairness but rather as yet another attempt to derail the entire project.

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