COST’s Focus Issues for 2022:

CO$T’s Focus Issues for 2022:


…and Expertise

WATER, water, nowhere.  It’s time for change.

Entering the third consecutive drought year without a water sufficiency plan approved by MMWD’s Directors, it’s clearly past time to elect new ones.  All three incumbents up for election in November will face strong challengers.  The first of these to emerge is Ranjiv Khush, running for the Ross Valley seat currently occupied by Larry Bragman.  We need all hands on deck throughout the ENTIRE water district to elect challenger candidates.  Please contact us to find out how you can help.  

Meanwhile, our elected “representatives” on MMWD’s board continue to postpone any significant decisions on improving water supply. They appear to be running out the clock until after the November 2022 election. The board recently commissioned yet another expensive study of water supply options at a cost of over $400,000,  even though none of the options have changed much since the last, very expensive study in 2017.  Additionally, Directors chose not to go on record with a vote  either for or against staff’s strong recommendation to place —  on the June ballot 2022 for voter approval — a measure to repeal 2010’s Measure S.  (Measure S requires district voters’ approval before MMWD can invest in desal.)  By ducking a vote on the issue, MMWD directors ensured a significant additional time delay and expense before moving forward with desal if it is urgently needed or becomes a viable part of a long-term water portfolio. This leaves the district less able to react to a drought emergency by considering temporary desal (renting floating desal barges to ensure an uninterrupted water supply).  CO$T has no position on desal per se but believes Directors must construct a robust long-term water supply portfolio using a disciplined set of criteria such as cost, environmental impact, feasibility, impact on our total water supply, timeframe, etc.

We’ll keep you posted about upcoming candidate forums and “meet the candidate” events.

Meanwhile, CO$T recently won an important ruling in its lawsuit against MMWD. In January, the Marin County Superior Court ordered that MMWD must comply with discovery requests from CO$T on behalf of ratepayers in our lawsuit contesting what we believe are illegal rates. For over two years, MMWD has stonewalled our requests for documents that CO$T’s attorneys believe will prove that the portion of MMWD’s current rate structure that’s tied to the size of individual customer’s meter (incoming pipe diameter) is unfair and arbitrary. In response to the judge’s order to release the documents, MMWD’s board voted to fund an appeal of this ruling..  This is a TRANSPARENCY issue, a  FAIRNESS issue, and a water supply issue.  Why should our local water agency hide its decision-making data from ratepayers – some of whom may be seriously wronged by an arbitrary rate structure – and spend OUR money to do so? Charging based on meter size (not actual water use) is both illegal and, effectively, anti-conservation,.

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Marin County Parks’ and Open Space Measure A, One-Quarter Cent Sales Tax Renewal, will be on the ballot in June 2022.  CO$T has been an ongoing, strong advocate for reducing the local risk of wildfire through more robust and fiscally-efficient public spending on removing excess fire-prone vegetation.  Working in concert with local city council members, fire professionals, county Parks staff and county supervisors, CO$T successfully negotiated improvements in the Measure A renewal ballot language. The final proposal features increased funding for Open Space fire fuel reduction and specific language ensuring that the money be spent on fire fuel reduction crews. Without this, CO$T was prepared to oppose renewal of the tax measure that helps fund County Parks, Open Space, City Parks, and agricultural grants on private landowners in west Marin. The improvements we achieved, though significantly less than we had hoped for in total funding, should result in more fire fuel reduction on Open Space acreage where fire professionals fear that a wildfire could escape into Marin communities.

Nonetheless, CO$T continues to have reservations about Measure A, and as such leave it up to voters to decide for themselves whether to support the tax renewal.   

Our reservations are:
(1) CO$T opposes sales taxes in general as unfairly regressive;
(2)CO$T, Marin County Fire Chiefs, and the public at large have all wanted a larger percentage of measure A funds devoted to fire prevention spending;
(3) We are dismayed that Measure A commits a much larger dollar amount in grants to private agricultural landowners on whose land taxpayers aren’t welcome. This is a real issue of fairness and equity that violates CO$T’s Sensible Tax Criteria.

EXPERTISE; Help Wanted, Brain Trust, and an Important Passing

CO$T is building out its team so we can meet the growing demands for our involvement in local watchdog, oversight, and taxpayer issues.

We need volunteers to monitor local agency meeting agendas.  If you value our work, please step up to help in this small but vital way.  Contact us!  Monitoring the agendas for one local city council, school board or agency takes less than one hour per month and does not require specialized skills.  Just read the agenda, skim the staff reports, and give us the heads up as to whether there’s something that CO$T needs to take a look at.  Without this help, things slip by that could benefit from our attention.

CO$T Brain Trust – Coming Soon! Join our Team! CO$T will soon be unveiling our new Brain Trust, a cadre of experts contributing their time and skills to discrete projects.  Brain Trust members are folks who have specialized expertise (e.g., financial analysis, technology and web skills, legal, etc.) or a passion for a particular topic/issue (e.g., tax and rate fairness, water, fire, transportation, transparency).  Join our impressive group of community leaders who have already committed.  This is a great way for talented individuals to contribute a moderate amount of time and make a huge difference. Contact us today to learn more!

The Passing of a Lion

We are very sad to announce the death of CO$T Director and former Treasurer, Paul Premo.  Paul was a founding member of our organization before we had a name or a firm idea of what CO$T would grow up to be. Paul put his exceptionally sharp mind to good use, focusing us on the most important issues. He was a wise counselor and also helped with the heavy lifting of our ongoing activities. We counted on Paul to dig deep into numbers and ask sharp questions. He did this with inimitable tact, earning tremendous respect from elected officials and staff. With an MIT Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering, Paul could do complex calculations in his head, including important ones related to pension funding. His financial analysis brought fiscal and policy issues into sharp, understandable focus.  He served in leadership roles for Chevron Retirees Association leadership and was for several years a Core Group member of Marin’s Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans.

Paul was particularly engaged by issues of accountability, integrity, fairness and transparency.  He served on Marin’s Civil Grand Jury as Foreperson Pro-Tem. Representing CO$T and local taxpayers, he was a key member of Citizen Oversight Committees for the Transportation Authority of Marin and College of Marin tax measures.

We at CO$T miss Paul deeply. Paul is irreplaceable. He leaves a huge hole in our hearts and on our board.

COST’s Focus Issues for 2022: