CO$T Unveils Its 2022 Plans, Capping a Big 2021

CO$T had a very effective 2021, educating, sun-lighting and advocating about the issues of greatest concern to Marin’s taxpayers and ratepayers. We are an increasingly potent force as reflected in the extensive, favorable press coverage, a 50% jump in our supporter roster, and a growing propensity for local agencies and leaders to seek our input on challenging matters. Several of the issues we’re working on will come to a head in 2022, with CO$T on the front lines working for fair outcomes and the public’s benefit. We need your help. A successful effort costs money. In this season of giving, please donate to CO$T by check (P.O. Box 253, Kentfield 94901) or click on the DONATE button below.

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Our separate CO$T Foundation welcomes tax-deductible donations to fund educational and legal projects (Foundation contributions can’t be used for political advocacy). Learn more here.
2022 Will Capitalize on Our Current Momentum and Skills
CO$T is focusing our expert analysis, advocacy, and educational efforts on urgent issues like water sufficiency, wildfire prevention, and other topics that will be on the ballot, in the news, and on Marin residents’ minds in 2022.

Working for New Directors at MMWD’s Board – MMWD’s water supply emergency is a direct result of the current board’s persistent failure to plan and its dogmatic insistence that we must conserve our way out of a climate-driven, long-term water shortage. The board has de facto declared war on landscaping, banning outdoor irrigation and imposing stiff fines. Paradoxically, MMWD threw away the opportunity to encourage conservation with a misguided 2018 rate structure that dramatically increased fixed charges, thereby diminishing the financial consequences of water consumption. CO$T’s lawsuit challenging the legality of this rate structure is now advancing in court after a COVID hiatus. The ultimate solution, however, is electing new directors with the analytical, technical and financial expertise to replace the ones who got us into this mess. Expect CO$T to be active in a battle to bring strong, practical leadership to MMWD’s board. Volunteer to help by emailing us at info@costmarin.org

Measure A Parks and Open Space Tax Renewal Must Focus on Wildfire Fuel Reduction – Marin Parks will seek voter approval for a June 2022 renewal measure of its current ¼ cent sales tax. CO$T is leading an effort to re-direct funding priorities of this sales tax that purported to be for Parks and Open Space. In fact, the largest single portion – 20% – of the current Parks’ sales tax revenue goes to “farmland preservation”, benefitting private landowners. CO$T is adamant that any renewal measure must explicitly commit the largest percentage of Parks’ sales tax revenue to reducing the dangerous accumulation of flammable fuel in Open Space that’s occurred as a result of decades of gross underfunding and neglect. Poll results show that wildfire IS overwhelmingly the public’s top priority for the use of Measure A renewal funds. CO$T will continue to work with all interested parties toward a ballot measure that focuses on wildfire prevention. We are prepared to oppose the sales tax renewal if fire fuel reduction is not an iron-clad priority and private farmland preservation spending is not completely defunded.

CO$T Wins Kudos for Educating and Informing about Statewide Issues. The CO$T Foundation – our 501(c)3 that funds our educational community service activities – had nearly 700 registrants for its hot-topic Housing Forum in October. The event focused on the controversial SB-9 legislation that is variously applauded for increasing housing supply prospects or despised for removing local control over neighborhood preservation, infrastructure adequacy, and disaster preparedness. Check out the video of this exceptionally well-received event, which featured panelists Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblyman Marc Levine, Novato Mayor Pat Eklund, local control activist Susan Kirsch, and moderator Dick Spotswood (Marin IJ). CO$T will keep Marin informed about a statewide effort to repeal SB-9 as well as one to repeal 2020’s Proposition 19 (which imposes big taxes on some heirs to family property). CO$T also hosted a successful September webinar featuring Govern for California President David Crane, a public policy expert and good governance advocate who is leading a well-funded campaign to get our politicians back to representing the public interest rather than special interests. Thanks to a matching grant, if you donate to GFC before yearend and send a copy of the receipt to info@costmarin.org, your contribution (up to $10,000) will be matched by an equal donation to CO$T. Please donate whatever amount you can afford to show our support for GFC.

We alert and educate Marin taxpayers about discounts and exemptions for which they may be eligible. Our annual CO$T eblast sent to tens of thousands of Marin residents informs them of opportunities to save money on local taxes and fees, water bills and electric bills if they are elderly, disabled, low income, or have certain medical conditions. We also alert them of ways they can lower their water and other utility bills, e.g., by changing their plan or water meter. Our most widely appreciated activity, this eblast also reminds recipients about filing deadlines and which of these money-saving opportunities must be reapplied for annually.

CO$T Boldly Defends Transparency and Public Inclusion – We invest our leadership’s time and our money in standing up for the public’s role in our public agencies. You should expect us to work aggressively to keep public meetings open and accessible – as we did in 2021 when we (1) hired a videographer to film and post to YouTube an offsite daylong MMWD board meeting – on the vital topic of water sufficiency planning – after the District refused to do so, and (2) mobilized public protest against MMWD’s plans to “streamline” (reduce) public comment at its board meetings. In 2022 we’ll be leading an effort to ensure that, as pandemic restrictions wind down, virtual access to and participation in all Marin agency public meetings continues to be available to all. This is a very important disability rights undertaking that CO$T is leading.

CO$T Continues a Potent Watch Dog – CO$T’s vigilance is proving a successful check on local agencies and has a broader warning effect. With input from our Directors and legal team, we frequently send formal letters objecting to local agencies’ actions and follow through as appropriate.

CO$T Expands its Stellar Board of Directors – CO$T’s strength owes much to the extraordinary capabilities, teamwork and time commitment of its Board of Directors. We are excited that Lucy Dilworth joined our board in 2021. With a distinguished legal resume and having served two years as Marin Civil Grand Jury Foreperson, Lucy adds further clout to our watchdog activities. CO$T continues on the lookout for exceptional individuals to augment our leadership team.

Donate to CO$T via PayPal or Credit Card
What Your Donation Funds

CO$T is a very lean and frugal organization, running largely on the manpower of highly dedicated volunteers. But we do incur expenses for overhead, community forums, communications and legal advice. In the second half of 2021, for the first time, we’re investing in some part-time help with digital communications. This is a response to the growing number of projects that CO$T has been asked to take on and our consequent challenges in keeping you, our loyal supporters, fully informed about all of them. Your donation supports CO$T’s growth and our collective positive impact on life in Marin.

Help Wanted: Get Involved!

Volunteer to Help Elect New MMWD Directors. Send us a message and we’ll get you in touch with opportunities to help challenger candidates get elected.

Join CO$T’s network of agency monitors. CO$T’s Board of Directors and other volunteers are currently monitoring major Marin agencies and jurisdictions. Each monitor is responsible for reading the agendas and staff reports of a particular agency and giving us an early heads-up of anything of possible interest to CO$T’s leaders and supporters. We plan to expand these efforts to include additional Marin jurisdictions and agencies. We need more volunteers! This should take less than 1-2 hours per month and is an extremely valuable contribution to our work. To find out more, email info@COSTMarin.org and mention where you live.

Join Our “Brain Trust”: Bolstering CO$T’s Leadership and Project Expertise. Professional expertise and public service experience underpin CO$T’s success and credibility. We are proud of our Directors and Advisors’ resumes and capabilities. In 2022, we plan to tap additional volunteers with specific skills or knowledge to augment our project teams with individuals who have skills-based expertise (e.g., in finance, public pensions, good government practices, communications and election campaigns) as well as in fields such as water, fire, schools, etc. This is a great opportunity to donate a modest amount of time and work with some of Marin’s most engaged citizens. Contact us if you’re interested.

Join our social media network – We’re assembling a roster of folks committed to helping amplify CO$T’s message via NextDoor, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Contact us to join or help lead this team.

Citizen Oversight Committees – More and more agencies are asking CO$T to provide representatives for committees that oversee Marin public agencies and tax measure expenditures. Our leadership currently serves on oversight committees for Transportation Authority of Marin, San Rafael Schools, College of Marin, Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority, and (historically) Mill Valley Schools. This is a great way to serve the public and isn’t hugely time-consuming. Let us know if you are interested in helping us with these efforts and your local agencies.

Last but NOT Least: Supporter recruitment – Encourage your friends and neighbors – via social media or an email – to sign up for CO$T’s informative eblasts. We gain strength from numbers.

California’s New Housing Laws Truth and Consequences

Q&A WEBINAR
For CO$T Supporters and Friends

Click pic below to play video.
 

Truth AND Consequences from Zayda Productions on Vimeo.

* Mike McGuire – State Senator *

* Marc Levine – State Assembly & Insurance Commissioner Candidate *

* Pat Eklund – Novato Mayor & Longtime ABAG Representative *

* Susan KirschCalifornia Community Catalysts for Local Control *

* Dick Spotswood, Moderator – Marin IJ’s Militant Centrist Political Columnist *


CA State Laws Now Target “The Housing Problem” at the Local Level – What Happens from Here?
Legislation to change housing policy statewide is an ongoing thrust and highly contentious. Can recent and future Sacramento legislation deliver a lot more housing and improve affordability? What are the consequences — good and bad — of limiting cities’ control over planning, growth and zoning? Hear from prominent leaders with diverse viewpoints, all of whom aim for a better California.

Read More

MMWD 10/15/21 Board Retreat Examined Water Supply Options

Link to powerpoint slides here

CO$T Videotaped the Entire Meeting Because the Water District Didn’t. More on the Story

IMPORTANT WEBINAR VIDEO: Help Pry California from Special Interests’ Grip!

Special interests’ money gets state and local politicians elected. They get what they pay for. We get runaway expenditures, higher taxes and declining services.

David CraneGovern for California GFC President David Crane — public policy expert and good governance advocate – is leading a masterly campaign to get California off this unsustainable trajectory and our politicians back to representing the public interest. GFC is levelling the playing field by putting serious money behind responsible candidates and advancing its own legislative initiatives that put ordinary Californians’ interests first. Crane is an authority on government finance, accounting, pension liability, and how the sausage gets made in Sacramento.

CO$T Announces Current Accomplishments and Future Goals

In 2021, CO$T is gearing up for growth, building on our 2020 successes in helping Marin taxpayers and ratepayers. We’ll be significantly augmenting our leadership team, taking on more projects, and keeping you better informed.

For next-stage success, CO$T needs YOUR financial support to fund improved software, communications platforms and administrative efficiency. Please contribute what you can. There are lots of options on our donate page including a Donate Now PayPal button as well as instructions for checks, appreciated stock, and donor advised funds. Some of the giving opportunities are tax deductible. Read More Here

Help CO$T Thrive Today. Donate here

 

CO$T aims to:

1. Keep local taxes and fees on housing and basic services affordable.
2. Encourage officials to prioritize spending on the uses most important to taxpayers.
3. Improve transparency and fiscal responsibility at local agencies and districts.
4. Educate taxpayers about the cost and use of their local taxes and fees.
5. Urge that tax measures be fair, equitable, and approved by those who will be paying.

CO$T’s activities include:

1. Host non-partisan public meetings about local tax policies and the options.
2. Inform voters about proposed new and renewed taxes and fees.
3. Research whether new taxes and fees are necessary and how they will be used.
4. Investigate cost-effective alternatives to higher taxes and fees.
5. Guide local officials on which tax and spending proposals voters would favor.
6. Serve as Taxpayer Representative on district Citizen Oversight Committees.

CO$T is an all-volunteer organization led by our Board of Directors. Our Advisory Group gives periodic guidance and assistance on projects. We email alerts on issues and developments to followers who sign up to receive our communications.

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