In a Sierra Star guest commentary on Oct. 3, George Oja said "I voted no" on the $14 million sewer assessment plan at Bass Lake. Mr. Oja clearly is misinformed. This was not a preliminary vote, the vote followed Prop 218 process to create an assessment and it passed. No other votes by the community are necessary.
The special district laws provide for a specific geographical boundary and when the district was created a finite number of sewer units was set and distributed to all property owners based upon the lot size, existing dwellings and needs. No additional sewer units can be created without an election by the people to change the district.
Most of the available land is developed and those who have undeveloped land already own sewer units. In fact those units were paid for when the system was installed. There a number of existing sewer units that can be sold but no property can be left without sewer units. Any so called developer would have to identify existing sewer units and or buy some from other owners to cover the development. All these units are subject to the new assessment.
Nobody is excluded and everybody who owns sewer units will pay the assessment whether connected or not.
Mr. Oja also suggested that the county could now borrow money from the district after the district has received millions of dollars from cash up front money. Special districts finances are locked into the district by law. The county must use district money for the district or someone is going to jail.
The Citizen Oversight Committee has worked with the county managers for years. Three public meetings were held to explain the project. The community was asked about the term of the bond. An overwhelming majority said they wanted the bond period to be 20 years. Extending the time raised the total cost significantly. The life of the improvements may only be 20 years so borrowing money for a longer term is not wise.
Qualified engineers made a cost estimated and it was padded to cover the unexpected. The community authorized a specific amount of money to be spent on the project. Any additional costs would have to come back to the community for approval. Too bad Mr. Oja did not gather the facts before he voted.
Marc Sobel, Bass Lake Homeowners Association and Oversight Committee chairman.