City Council Statement on Ballot Initiatives

In the November 3rd regularly scheduled meeting, the city council unanimously voted in favor of releasing their position on the City of Dunsmuir's Ballot Initiatives.

Measure D

Position of the City Council is to request the electorate of Dunsmuir vote YES on Measure D.

Measure D proposes to make the currently elected City Clerk office appointive. This means that City Council can designate a current City position to assume the duties and responsibilities of City Clerk or another person. For some time the State has been passing new laws assigning duties and responsibilities to the office of City Clerk. Previously volunteers performed the duties of City Clerk when the primary functions were to take minutes at meetings and file City records. Today elected and appointed City Clerks are responsible for elections, fair political practices enforcement, publication of City laws when passed, receiving and processing lawsuits, receiving and processing public information requests, maintaining files for all grants received, ensuring filing of legal papers including deeds and contracts, and a lot more. The job is time consuming and critical to City operations. A volunteer or part time person can no longer keep up with all the responsibilities and duties.

1. No one has “volunteered” to be City Clerk in the last 12 years.

2. An agreement was reached that provided some funds for person who took minutes and filed Resolutions and Ordinances.  During the tenure of this person other City staff shouldered much of the duties assigned to City Clerk office.

3. Early in 2016 the City Clerk office again became vacant.  No applications were received to fill this position.  At this election a candidate could have run for office but none applied.

4. Measure D needs to pass so the City can have City Clerk duties and responsibilities assigned to person or persons and get the statutory work completed.  Failure to have a City Clerk perform these duties and responsibilities would leave the City open to legal challenge about most all of its operations.

Measure V

Position of the City Council is to request that electorate of Dunsmuir vote NO on Measure V.

Measure V proposes to change from mandatory garbage service to voluntary service.  Rate payers would be able to opt out from receiving weekly garbage service at their curb.

1. Measure V would allow residences, businesses, manufacturing establishments to not be charged by the City and not receive City contracted garbage removal services.  The City has had mandatory garbage service for over 10 years and its contract with its private hauler is based on all properties receiving the service and paying for it.  If the service becomes voluntary prior to the end of haulers contract the City will be required to pay the hauler for services not being provided as the contract is for a negotiated flat amount.

2. Measure V would encourage property occupants opting out of City service to store garbage on site for periods of time before removing discards as weekly service would not be available.

3. Measure V would result in neighbors complaining about accumulations of trash on adjacent and other visible properties where trash removal services are not provided on a regular basis.

4. Measure V proposes to limit expenditure of proceeds from trash service exclusively to paying for operations of contract trash hauler.

5. Measure V would eliminate funding for downtown trash receptacles and for servicing thereof.

6. Measure V would eliminate funding for leaf removal from streets and allow storm drains to clog and possibly cause flooding.

7. Measure V provides no funding for increased code enforcement that would be required when trash and refuse is not removed on a regular basis.  Nuisance abatement procedures are time consuming and costly especially if court orders are required to remove offensive storage of trash and refuse.

Measure W

Position of the City Council is to request that electorate of Dunsmuir vote NO on Measure W.

Measure W proposes to reduce water rates increased in March 2016 and sewer rates that were implemented in 2011.

1. The reduced water rates will not allow for future improvements to water system including replacement of failing water mains, replacement of water tank needed to ensure water pressure is sufficient to provide fire protection to central and southern portions of Dunsmuir service area, or other improvements that may be required in the future.

. The reduced water rates will make Dunsmuir ineligible for grants and loans that are being negotiated with State and federal funding sources.

3. The reduced rates apply to service within the City of Dunsmuir and will leave service to customers in South Dunsmuir area and others outside the City paying higher rates for the service, a violation of State Law which requires all customers pay for the value of the service received which is the water.  Rate payers outside City limits would be subsidizing customers inside City limits, a fundamental violation of State law.

4. The proposed reduced water rates, that apply to customer within City limits, are a flat rate in that every customer would pay the same amount with no consideration of amount of water used.  So within the City customers with low usage would be “overpaying” for the value of service received and subsidizing those who use more water.  This is a violation of State law.  Charging customers based on actual metered usage is the only way to comply with the intent of Proposition 218, State Law, and enable the City to encourage conservation in compliance with State law..

5. The reduced water rates will not encourage conservation of water and leave the City water system a target for State fines and assessments if it is determined that City is not conserving during these drought times.  The City’s diversion of waters right is limited and if exceeded could lead to additional fines and assessments against the City water system.

6. The reduced sewer rates will not allow for repayment of loans taken to upgrade wastewater treatment plant.  The improvements at the plant were required to meet State requirements that allow for discharge of treated wastewater back into the Sacramento River.  If the State deems that City is unable to pay back the loan taken to allow for plant improvements, the State may require the State operate the system and set rates they feel are sufficient to operate the system and pay back existing and what the new operator feels are appropriate new loans to continue to improve the plant to comply with existing and new State mandates on treatment.

7. The reduced sewer rates will not allow for City to qualify for the State loans presently being sought to continue improvements at the plant and to allow the City to be eligible for current loan and thus may require immediate payback of the existing loan balance which the City will be unable to do.

8. The reduced sewer rates apply to customers inside city limits.  Current rates adopted in compliance with State Law (Proposition 218) may remain for customers outside City limits and create different rates for the same service in violation of State Law requiring same fee for same service.

Measure W proposes that all water served will be to property owners, not tenants, renters, or business operators.
·      This provision coupled with flat fee most likely will raise a legal challenge that an assessment or tax is being imposed, not a fee for service that is not being received by the property owner but is being received by tenant, renter, or business owner.  It is specifically targeting property owners and not those receiving the service (water).

Measure W proposes to have City enforce new code provisions for “waste of water”.
·      This provision will be impossible to enforce without adding enforcement officers to patrol the City looking for violations.  The proposed reductions in fees will not allow for additional moneys to fund these positions and thus there will be no enforcement unless current employees repairing leaks and monitoring delivery of water are pulled from those jobs.

Measure W proposes to have water system not charge for repairs or replacements to items serving only the customer side of the water meter.
·      This provision will require all other customers to subsidize payment for improvements or repairs to water system that benefit only the customer at a specific address.  This could end up in litigation as a violation of State law or the City water system being cited by State for violating State Law.

Measure Y

Position of the City Council is to request the electorate of Dunsmuir vote NO on Measure Y as it is not needed.

Measure Y proposes to establish regulations relating to medical marijuana cultivation within City limits.  The City had regulations which were removed from City Code in 2015.  The current City Council has repeatedly stated that State law provisions are to be enforced and has not moved to enact any new regulations.

1. Measure Y repeats conformance with State law even though that is already in place.

2. Measure Y would not allow any new ordinances to be adopted by current or future City Council regulating medical marijuana cultivation without such being approved by voters first.

3. Measure Y would allow qualified patients, persons and designated primary caregivers to cultivate marijuana consistent with California law, a right already provided.

4. Measure Y then goes on to provide regulations on cultivation not presently existent in State law or City code but mostly restating what other jurisdictions have adopted regarding electrical services being in compliance with State building codes, requiring ventilation and exhaust from in-door growing to prevent humidity, mold and odor problems without providing any funding source for enforcement of these new regulations.

5. Measure Y provides that the exclusive penalty for violations would be 90-day notice to come into compliance or be deemed guilty of an infraction punishable by $50 a day fine not to exceed $500 for same event.  In essence neighbors bothered by mold and odor problems may have to wait 90 days or more for violations to be corrected.  Persons who have historically violated these type of provisions do not normally pay the fines assessed.

6. Measure Y if passed along with Measure W would make it much easier for cultivation of marijuana with lower water price and no restriction on water usage.