I voted "no"

Guest CommentaryOctober 1, 2013 

Madera County has recently submitted a capitol improvement assessment plan for enlarging and improving the Bass Lake sewer system. The one cost estimate provided is more than $14 million.

I voted 'no' in preliminary voting held for a consensus top gage future voting on the plan's acceptance. The plan is unfair because the assessments are only on property owners with sewer connections, while future developers would not be assessed any capital costs.

The county claims the capital improvements assessment resulted from input by property owners. Why would property owners accept lump-sum payments of $7,000 (or personal indebtedness of $8,000) and provide a debt-free sewer system for developers who did not contribute to the capital costs?

I reject the inference in the presentation that failure to pass the capital improvements assessment will negate the use of bonds for building for funding the sewer system. I also reject the capital improvements assessments because the 'cash-out' option would provide a several million dollars 'slush fund' for the county short term loans to finance shortfalls and wish-lists, however justified.

Often such loans remain unpaid, regardless of good intentions. Shortages in sewer funding would increase sewer operational fees.

A fair sewer improvement financial plan would be to use 30 or 35 year bonds while interest while interest rates are low. Everyone would be assessed monthly bond payments according to their sewer connection classification.

The bond's payment plan could be programmed so that as future sewer connections occurred they would be assessed for bond payments according to classification and the remaining life of the bonds. The result would be a gradual decrease in monthly bond payments for everyone. When a property owner sells, his bond payment ends.

Privatizing the sewer system could be another option for an improved system. Obviously the county prefers a debt-free sewer to entice development to increase its tax base.

If the county's capitol assessment is accepted, don't be surprised if the cost estimate will increase substantially. Other expenses which could increase 'cash out' are personal indebtedness assessments including contract cost overruns, legal fees from potential lawsuits, and of course, the environment impact report that is there in any financial (construction?) plan.

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