Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ross Valley Watershed Mail Ballot Process

This week, the County Flood Control District Zone 9 sent out notices to property owners of a public hearing on the proposal to establish an annual watershed-wide storm drainage user fee to fund the Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program. The California Constitution requires that the proposed fee goes through a two-step approval process: a public hearing and protest procedure and then a property owner vote. The public hearing will be held on May 1st at 11 a.m. the County Board of Supervisors Chambers in the Civic Center. The next step in the process will be for the ballots to be mailed to property owners in May, with a 45-day return period for the ballots. The mail ballots will contain the exact assessment for each specific property. If there is at least a simple majority of ‘yes’ votes on the ballots which are returned, the fee would go into effect beginning with the tax year 2007-08.

The Ross Valley Watershed proposed storm drainage user fee, if adopted, would be collected by Flood Control Zone 9, which includes Fairfax, San Anselmo, Larkspur, Ross, and the surrounding unincorporated areas, and will amount to approximately $2 million collected per year. The funding will provide matching funds for grants and also money that can be used to bond against, in order to secure state and federal grants meant for flood control and watershed restoration. The real needs to of the Ross Valley in this area are approximately $100 million. The Flood Control Zone 9 projects are regional in scope and are intended to approach flooding from a large-scale perspective, taking into consideration hydrology data and studies of the entire watershed. The Ross Valley Watershed fee can be viewed as an investment in future projects that will have a systemic impact on our long-term flooding risk.