Wash our hands of the statewide water tax

COMMENTARY /// California’s water

As the Sacramento legislative session reaches the home stretch, state lawmakers are pushing for a sweeping new tax on tap water that would affect all Californians.

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District board of directors has had a long-standing policy of opposing any statewide “water tax” and other legislation that would transfer local ratepayer funds to Sacramento, which is the intent of SB 623 by Sen. Bill Monning.

The bill was amended last week to include a statewide tax on water aimed to provide funding for safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities.

LVMWD supports the intent of the bill, but is opposed to using a tax to raise money.

“We support measures to ensure everyone in California has access to clean, safe drinking water, but the proposed tax on tap water is not the way to do it,” Glen Peterson, LVMWD board president said.

As proposed, the bill would mandate local water agencies to collect an initial 95-cent per month water tax on most customers’ bills and funnel it to Sacramento.

The tax on businesses and those with larger connections would be substantially higher, up to $10 per month.

Beginning in 2022, unelected state officials in Sacramento could increase the tax to generate two times the estimated funding needed, an amount they also determine, without approval by the legislature or voters.

LVMWD believes there are better options to fund this statewide priority that would serve and protect residents and communities in need.

Existing and proposed statewide bond funds; a proposed assessment on fertilizers, which can contaminate drinking water sources; federal safe drinking water funds; and state general fund revenues could all be used for this purpose.

The Association of California Water Agencies and water agencies throughout the state have also expressed opposition to the bill unless it is amended to remove the water tax.

Visit theACWAinformational web page for the public at www.acwa.com/no-water-tax.county.

This opinion was submitted by the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District board of directors.