|Reduction in RP sewer fees will be on November ballot
An initiative to roll back Rohnert Park sewer charges to their February 2006 level will appear on the November ballot.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, it was unanimously agreed to do this and also file an impact report to back up the city’s opposition against any reduction in fees. According to state rules, the council had no choice. The vote was 4-0, Councilwoman Amie Breeze was absent.
The sewer rates initiative has already qualified for the ballot. As reported exclusively in the June 13 issue of The Community Voice, backers turned in more than 1,000 names on a petition. They only needed 639 valid signatures.
One of the backers, Cheryl Fonseca, told the council, “As a Rohnert Park citizen, I think sewer rates are ill advised,” she said. “I would like to see RP’s sewer financial records - show me the specific numbers of revenue and expenses, clearly separating (sewer) maintenance from expansion.”
Attorney John Hudson mentioned this. “User fees are still paying for expansion of the sewer system. Fees paid by citizens are used to subsidize developers. You’re violating your own ordinance.”
Hudson mentioned the University District Specific Plan on RP Expressway across from SSU’s Green Music Center. Plans call for a major development here by Brookfield Homes. (Plans have been stalled because of a lawsuit by the OWL Foundation that is still in the Ninth District State Appeals Court).
“We will see Brookfield Homes backing the opposition to the rollback,” said Hudson. “They’ve done it in other cases.”
The impact report accompanying the ballot initiative will be ready for council scrutiny at its July 22 meeting. It has to be filed with the county by August 7.
“It’s not a full environmental impact report,” said City Engineer Darrin Jenkins. “It’s an ‘in-house collaboration,’ with the city’s public works, engineering, finance and others involved. We’ve been working on it since March 1 this year.
“It’s not intended to stop the initiative. But the voters have a right for an honest evaluation,” said Jenkins. “It’s our responsibility. If we don’t have enough money to maintain sewers, the system can fail, back up into homes or overflow into streets. Then it has an impact on public health.”
Fonseca said, “Don’t use a filibuster and stall our initiative from making it to the November ballot. The people have a right to vote on it.”