What You Can Do About The Big Water Rate Hike
The meeting lasted from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm. These videos represent the first two hours. Please visit the related pages on this website to learn more about the Marin Municipal Water District rate hikes.
Marin Municipal Water District has sent out formal notice of its proposal to raise water rates 7% on July 1, 2017 and a further 7% on July 1, 2018. This comes on the heels of two much larger rate increases just last year (2016) that increased many people’s bills 50-100%. Marin residents cannot afford such excessive rate hikes.
Unfortunately MMWD customers do not get a direct vote.
The most effective thing you can do is to demand that our elected MMWD directors DO THEIR JOB and represent our interests by controlling expenses and saying no to yet another water rate increase.
MMWD’s salaries and increases are generous. This, together with rapidly growing pensions and retiree health benefits (including for spouses) with cost of living adjustments, results in many MMWD jobs paying 50%-60% more than similar private sector positions.
In its less than transparent rate increase notice, MMWD claims 80% of its costs are fixed. The problem is that the district considers its high personnel costs as fixed! It’s up to the board to manage costs, not rubber-stamp what staff wants.
So here’s what you should do:
Email MMWD Directors as indicated in the box below. Tell them that you expect that, as your elected representatives, they will vote against the rate increase at their May 16 public hearing. MMWD’s board should then direct a comprehensive review of cost saving opportunities.
Attend and Speak up at the district’s ratepayer Meetings: April 11 public workshop and May 16 Public Rate Hearing. Details are in the second box below.
Send in the formal Rate Protest Form that’s on page 4 of the Rate Increase (Public Hearing) Notice you received in the mail. If you don’t have that, go to page 5 of the PDF at this link. (Print page 5 and send before May 15th) Note, however, in a further violation of transparency, MMWD fails to mention that that it takes more than half of their over 57,000 ratepayers sending in the Rate Protest form in order for ratepayers to overturn a rate hike. That’s why it’s important to contact the board directly.
Email MMWD’s Directors:
Larry Bragman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Gibson – email@example.com
Cynthia Koehler – firstname.lastname@example.org
Armando Quintero – email@example.com
Larry Russell – firstname.lastname@example.org
Attend and Speak Up at Upcoming MMWD Meetings:
Public Workshop on Rate Hikes – Tuesday April 11, 7PM – Corte Madera Community Center, 498 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera
Public Hearing (that’s when the board votes on formally approving the rates) –Tuesday May 16, 7:30PM – MMWD headquarters, 220 Nellen Avenue, Corte Madera
Wear a shirt the color of dollar bills, to remind MMWD’s directors whose money they’re spending. Also, bring a kitchen sieve, symbolizing that too much of our money is going down the drain. During the meeting, waive your sieve when MMWD’s statements don’t hold water!
Excellent Marin IJ editorial criticizing the poor public process
Marin Voice op/ed urges Councils and McGuire not to enable TAM’s tax hike quest
On Tuesday 1/24, the Novato City Council voted 3 to 2 in favor of endorsing a Transportation Authority of Marin proposal to raise the sales tax throughout Marin by 0.5%.
This will take the total sales tax in some Marin jurisdictions to nearly 10%.
TAM is pressing Novato for an immediate endorsement, but did not allow the City sufficient time to thoroughly engage constituents before endorsing on their behalf. (On 1/18/17, San Rafael tabled indefinitely TAM’s request for endorsement citing its reluctance to speak on behalf of constituents without enough opportunity to alert them and consider their opinion.)
This is also an important opportunity for concerned citizens to speak up against providing more money to a transportation authority that has not been a prudent or transparent steward of our funds. TAM has proposed to spend its existing 0.5% Measure A “congestion relief” sales tax funds on projects that actually make traffic worse, such as the to the proposed Sir Francis Drake Corridor rehabilitation project. TAM has also sought to “swap” Measure A restricted funds with other agencies (such as its own Marin Transit) in order to spend on projects that are not permitted under Measure A.
If the TAM plan goes through, the agency’s piece of the Marin sales tax pie will double.
Many Marin taxpayers are already financially stressed by the spate of recent local tax increases. Sales taxes are the most regressive, with the burden falling hardest on those who earn the least. TAM’s record does not inspire confidence that the money will be spent primarily on what matters most to voters – improved vehicular traffic flow.
Click on the link below and scroll down to Novato City Council agenda item 13 for specifics.
In that document you will see that TAM is asking Novato to endorse its plan to ask the state to grant Marin a waiver of the current 9.75% sales tax cap in order for TAM to ask voter approval for an additional 0.5% sales tax. That would double TAM’s slice of every taxable transaction to 1.0%. Mike McGuire is sponsoring legislation in the state senate to raise the sales tax cap in Marin. We encourage you to contact his office to object.
San Rafael City Council Tam Tax Cap Exemption Meeting
Good news! At its 1/17/17 meeting, the San Rafael City Council voted 4-1 to table indefinitely acting on the Transportation Authority of Marin’s request for endorsement of a plan that could have ultimately resulted in the sales tax rate throughout Marin rising as much as 0.5%. To move forward with its plan, TAM was seeking endorsements from all 12 Marin jurisdictions for the first stage of a two part plan to raise the transportation sales tax in Marin. (Part one involved seeking a legislative waiver exempting Marin from the state’s sales tax cap; this would have been followed by a sales tax hike measure on Marin’s 2018 ballot.)
Without support from the City Council of San Rafael, the city with the largest population and highest existing sales tax rate, we’re hopeful that TAM will set aside, for at least two (and more probably 3-4) years, any effort to raise Marin’s transportation sales tax.
This is a first-round victory for Marin taxpayers, who are reeling from the financial strain of a spate of recent tax increases and are urging local officials to look for fiscally sound alternatives to seeking further revenue hikes.
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