Yucca Valley, Ca. Is the Hi-Desert Water District spending Staff time and public funds (attorney fees) on behalf of the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce who are advocating for the Town General Fund Tax? The HDWD rate payers living on the Mesa cannot vote for, or against, this tax because they live outside the town limits but share the same zip code and same water district.
At the September 5, 2012 meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District, Jennifer Collins, President of the Yucca Chamber of Commerce, spoke on behalf of “her” members in support of the Town’s Measure U General Fund tax during public comments. She asked for support from the Board members and requested financial contributions to continue the Chamber’s public outreach to promote passage of Measure U. Following Collins, were two other chamber members requesting support.
There was an agenda item to authorize 10% of Measure U tax proceeds received from the Town of Yucca Valley, to fund a low income assistance program. I objected to the specific reference of Measure U on the agenda and power point presentation as a back door endorsement to the Town General Fund tax. I asked why there was a rush to address this matter especially since Measure U will not pass. (If it does pass, the Town grabs all the first 5 years of tax revenue.)
Agenda Link here ( See # 11-”Staff recommends that the Board authorizes funding of the Wastewater Assistance Program from the potential sales tax initiative (Measure U) in the amount of 10% annually or $280,000.”)
The Board decided to bring this item to the Public Advisory Committee to conduct a workshop. Yucca Valley Deputy Town Manager, Shane Stueckle, bolted out of the board room after hearing their decision not to authorize funding . A red flag went off in my mind. CFO Frank Luckino said Staff would bring forth a Resolution to the Board members at the next meeting to state their support. Say what Frank?? The HDWD Board of Directors and the Town of Yucca Valley cannot legally advocate for the tax measure. Hello?
I sent an email to HDWD attorney John Brown, with BBK, Best, Best & Krieger, protesting the references to Measure U in the agenda/power point presentation and I had not received a copy of the draft Resolution to review prior to the meeting with the Public Advisory Committee. Three days later,I received a copy two hours before the Monday meeting as per my request.
The Resolution was introduced to the PAC on Monday September 10th, see agenda #6 Link here,
“RESOLUTION TO LOWER COSTS FOR WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITY AND WATER RECLAMATION PROJECT-Staff to present a Resolution to the committee to discuss efforts to support lowering the costs to construct and operate the Wastewater Treatment and Water Reclamation Project” which was another back door attempt in support of the Town tax or perception thereof.
At the Public Advisory meeting, CFO Luckino stated a “citizen’s group” requested this Resolution of the HDWD Board members to support the town’s efforts to lower costs which may include a Town Tax. The Citizen’s Group was later identified, after an exchange of emails, as the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce!
Wake Up Yucca Mesa!
September 5th the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce appear at meeting requesting support and “coincidentally” on September 5th, CFO Frank Luckino reports there is a Resolution for the Board’s next meeting.
Why is the HDWD spending public funds on this Resolution? I have requested an accounting of Staff time and attorney fees spent to comply with the Chamber advocating for the Town’s General Fund tax measure.
I am pleased to announce the reference to measure U was deleted from the power point presentation to the PAC regarding a low income assistance program. Thank you John Brown.
Adding more feathers to this chicken soup, the Chair of the Public Advisory Committee, John Babrowski, is the co-author of the Rebuttal For Measure U, the Town’s General Fund Tax. At no time did he declare himself or recuse himself from any discussions.
The next meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District is Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at their office starting at 6pm. Agenda link
Margo Sturges Author Link Here
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