Paso’s costly water project just a backdoor tax?

August 31, 2008


A multi-million-dollar Paso Robles water project funded by fattened water rates has pitted two mayoral candidates against one another and the conflict’s outcome could impact North County development for years to come.

City officials have decided to saddle water users with sharp rate hikes to pay for the Nacimiento Pipeline water delivery system, which includes a $100 million-plus water treatment plant to deal with the lake water’s high mercury content. A price tag to the pipeline of $76 million is alleged, but debt service and other costs may eventually hike the total project cost to more than $300 million.

The city council’s tentative endorsement of higher water rates for capital construction of the project sparked an outcry from thousands of dissenters who already have signed petitions to stop what they call a new tax assessment.

The council meets Tuesday, and may postpone its anticipated final vote on the rate hike, according to sources.

Project advocates argue that the pipeline and treatment plant are necessary because “the city needs to improve and diversify its water supply or the demand may soon exceed the supply.”

In supportive literature paid for by city residents, advocates note that “the city is already contracted and committed to this project. The water rate increase is a must to pay for an alternative, better quality and additional water supply; to maintain the existing water delivery system in good working order; and to replace aging pumps and other equipment.”

The plan will “relieve stress on the groundwater basin” and provide an “independent” source of supply for North County residents, its proponents argue.

In fact, the current condition of the underground basin is emerging as an issue of major contention. When Paso Robles’ city council in the late 1990s moved politically to a pro-growth position after years of a relatively steady population base, a significant spurt in housing and commercial construction followed. That put additional pressure on the city’s wells, but that growth was nearly insignificant alongside the massive uses by an influx of huge corporate wineries on the city’s east side.

Opponents of the water rate hike contend that current residents are being unlawfully forced to pick up the capital costs of a project which will primarily benefit agriculture and new population growth.

Paso Robles is the first stop for water traveling through the yet-to-be-built Nacimiento Pipeline, and the city’s participation was key to the project’s future ability to deliver supplies to the South County. Nevertheless, a growing element now believes the plan stole into the consciousness of Paso Robles’ residents like a thief in the night, following a circuitous route to approval virtually guaranteeing limited public involvement in the process and offering little opportunity for questions.

The growing conflict centers on an important constitutional issue.

Under California law, policy makers cannot simply levy an assessment or tax on real property to pay the capital cost of new public improvements or services. Such issues must be placed before the electorate for approval by a two-thirds vote. This statutory prohibition has caused a lot of grief for public officials anxious to fund and construct capital improvements, and much thought has been expended crafting methods to find ways to circumvent the law — and sometimes the will of the people.

John Borst, a 13-year resident and college instructor, and city council member Gary Nemeth, are both seeking the mayor’s post in November, and both have strong opinions on the water project’s fate. Borst believes the burgeoning water rates are just a tax in disguise. Nemeth is an unabashed advocate of the pipeline’s construction. (Two other candidates for mayor, Jim Norman and Duane Picanco, have so far remained in the water battle’s background, although Picanco has always supported the Nacimiento Pipeline and its related infrastructure with his votes on council.)

Borst is a member of a group formed to fight the new rates called Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles (CCPR).

City officials acknowledge they slipped the project in between cracks in state law. And although city officials claim that residents have had ample occasion to express their opinion, a growing number of people are now saying otherwise.

In order to patch some large holes in California’s revolutionary Prop. 13, the Howard Jarvis property tax limitation constitutional amendment, voters in 1996 approved a fix-it plan called Prop. 218. But during a brief window during which legal challenges to Prop. 218 were being batted around in various courts and were momentarily unsettled, officials in the city of Paso Robles nursed the Nacimiento Pipeline into existence.

City Manager Jim App, who has positioned himself as the city’s primary paid advocate of the water project, said he thinks officials have followed the law, and argues that the issue is not one that should be decided by voters.

“The actions of the city council current and past are entirely consistent with their duty and voter-vested authority. Further, capital project decisions are not subject to Proposition 218 provisions,” he wrote on the city’s water Web site.

App argues that Paso Robles’ “primary and best use of water” is for agricultural use. Many residential users think the cost of new water development should be borne by new development and vintners.

The argument eventually gets around to a definition of the word “assessment.”

An “assessment,” according to wording of the voter-approved Prop. 218, “means any levy or charge by an agency upon real property that is based upon the special benefit conferred upon the real property by a public improvement or service, that is imposed to pay the capital cost of the public improvement, the maintenance and operation expenses of the public improvement, or the cost of the service provided.”

“The provisions of Prop. 218 are very applicable here. It requires voter approval of many methods of public revenue raising,” said Tom Rusch, another member of CCPR. He appeared last week with Borst and Karen Reed on KPRL radio’s Dick Mason show.

The law “does not allow local officials to change fees to meet revenue needs. It shifts most of the power of taxation from local governing elected boards – such as a city council – to residents and property owners,” Roush said. “The purpose is to ensure that property assessments are approved by voters.”

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Member Opinions:

By: Anonymous on 9/4/08

I agree it takes courage to answer allegations. I also do not live in Paso, though I respect a CC member willing to answer allegations.

For those of you who claim Fred should not post, your assertions make no since as you read and post. Or do you see him as beyond public assess?

By: Anonymous on 9/4/08


I don’t live in Paso. I have never met you or for that matter don’t know anyone involved on either side of this issue.

What I would like to comment on is the fact that you are here. You are not sitting in your ivory tower at city hall demonizing everyone that disagrees with you. In my opinion you have tried to answer the questions asked of you here, in a respectful, and thorough manner. You have expressed your opinion which you are entitled to, and given lots of facts, (that are easily checked) to back up your opinions and actions.

If more politicians would follow your lead, we may actually be able to solve some problems. The citizens need to turn off the TV and get involved in what’s happening around us. The internet in general, and blogs like this, allows those of us that are trying to make a living and raise families have a say in what’s going on. The internet also gives us little people a tremendous research tool, to check the facts that are being fed to us from all sides…….Many politicians are very worried about the information revolution, and should be. The little people out here in the real world are starting to hold elected officials accountable for their actions.

Don’t be discouraged by some of the comments here. There will always be those people on both sides that spout useless emotional rhetoric. Those comments are simply ignored or laughed at by most of the readers. I will always have respect for anyone (regardless of whether we agree or not) that will listen to my concerns and respond with a factual, thoughtful answer. Which in my opinion you have attempted to do here and are to be commended for.

It is not my intent to change the topic but while I have you on the phone, so to speak, I would like to make a few in general comments about Paso; To me, what makes Paso a great town is its diversity. Paso has somehow been able to have something for everyone, whether you are a wine snob or a goat roper, Paso makes everyone feel welcome.

My family loves many of the events in Paso. The Vine Street Christmas thing you guys do is great. However, I was very saddened when cruise night was canceled. That was an event my family attended every year……I hope Paso is not loosing the diversity that has made it strong……Another thing I don’t care for is the new thing of fencing in the wine tasting in the park, that just isn’t like Paso.

I don’t expect a response, but there’s my two cents worth from an outsider, and again I commend you for having a dialog with us regular folks.

By: Anonymous on 9/4/08

Seems to me I read that elected officials have niothing to gaimn and a lot to lose when participating in a forum such as this.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

Drunken, drooling, etc., etc..

now that's funny. I don't care who you are.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08


This will be my final post on this site. I've always tried to have open and honest communications with people.

Anonymous: I see what you mean. This site doesn't really seek reality. It loves argument. Seriousness automatically loses.

Insider: Your freinds weren't you in an earlier life. The City Council is the Board of Directors of a Municipal Corporation. When someone is elected they replace a previous member but the corporation lives on. All previous decisions are still binding on the new board (Council). The Council can change policies but it can't absolve itself of debt or abrogate contracts, whether they are purchases or labor agreements.The word of each Council is its bond. As a successor, I am bound by previous decisions. When new matters come up, we have the ability to set policy or make decisions on direction. We must consider what went before and what are the potential consequences for the future. It is not a game. It is real life. That's why I spend time at the regional and state levels also. Millions of dollars of road, transit, police and public safety money come through regional and state government. Paying attention to the state budget and other actions by state agencies and the legislature becomes very important.

The state's attempts to take the current water we have away from us to use for environmental or other people's needs becomes a very real concern that must be dealt with.

The actions of previous governments live on after them. NOT acting upon the commitments of previous Councils could bind us to the payments while possibly losing us the benefits. I can't be that foolish with the life, health and money of our citizens.

Insider: Yes. Constantly. We have secured future benefits for retirees, among many other things. That's something many other jurisdictions haven't been able to do yet. Paso Robles has done more to protect its future than nearly any other jurisdiction in the state. That is why so many of them ask us how to do things. We are one of the basic templates for good government in this state.

I get an average of five emails a day from other cities asking how we do certain things or if we've dealt with certain situations. We are much more respected by leaders throughout this state than we are by the bulk of people responding to this web site.

To To FRED: I'm not desperate. My campaign chairman suggested that I respond to this post on this site. I accepted that advice. Probably she, as well as I, were under the wrong impression that people were serious on this site.

Thank you all for the insight and advice.

If you would like to have any serious input or meaningful conversation, go to or email me at

It's been interesting. I will still continue to do the best I can to meet the needs of this community now and into the future.

Best wishes to all of you.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

Wouldn't it have been cheaper had we signed on with the state water line than this idiotic idea of the Nacimiento Water line?

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

TO Fred

You mention several times about just following what previous City Councils did. Well here's one my dad used to use on me. If previous City Councils jumped off a cliff are you going to jump off a cliff?

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

to Fred

That was quite a defensive effort but I think you have missed the point. Has someone looked at the total cost and long term effect of Pasos public policies regarding wages and services in relationship to its income and future potential for survival? Or are we just writing another blank check?

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

Dude! chill out! you're desperate!

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

Sentinel –

I'm not misinformed…I'm very well aware of the case SOME of the public are making. I'm also VERY aware of the issues.

From the beginning the issue was NEVER about the law – it was about the MONEY! Activists against the project have thrown up Propoganda to muddy the WATER. They've used Mercury, Law, Growth, Vineyards, etc…to gain support about why we shouldnt have to PAY. You can try to sound like a watchdog…you won't fool me.

Lastly, not one of these Sentinels has stepped up to bring a real alternative to the water shortage issue. They use the Democrat apporoach to the Iraq war…"Just pull out." No plan, no facts, just propoganda that is appealing to the ears of the masses.

I don't look forward to paying higher water bills either. However, I don't like paying inflated house prices to live on the Central Coast. I don't like paying $4.00 a gallon for gas. I don't like paying increased tuition costs for my kids…However, those are all real costs that will be paid.

So, I ask you Sentinel, lay out your grand PLAN that will cost effectively solve this THREAT. It better be comprehensive and outline all the costs…otherwise leave this topic to the big boys.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

Insider –

You are a bitter man my friend. I suggest therapy!

I'll tell you what, when you get assaulted on the job, save a child from a burning building, die at an earlier age than all of your friends, or resond to a job where you witness a poor man just involved in a motorcycle accident head splattered all over the roadway then you can chime in on what's fair.

CAL PERS more than pays its way – along with EMPLOYEE contributions to the retirement system. Their investment strategies make them the industry standard – that's why the governor wanted to raid its reserves.

While growing government isn't in my agenda either – you have to maintain a balanced perspective about its roll.

I still hear the calls for you to move to San big government there – maybe a few developers who've gone bankrupt…but that's about it!

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

Our elected officials spend our money without regard. They pay twice the sallary of a local to all staff. If there is a project they pay whatever is told to them what it cost. No one could survive in business like this. Lets put a moratorium on all spending and hiring at the city util we get a handle on a out of control situation before its too late. This is not just a water problem the camels nose is under the tent.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

to to Clarify

I knew someone feeding at the trough would clarify the numbers. Of course thats today you always want more don't you? And what about the pyramid cost of retirement population, new employees, new retirement population, new employees and so on and so on until. Oh, but you'll have yours by then right? Maybe you can open a jiffy lube or dairy queen with your take. Looks like the Council looked at other ways now that the sheep woke up. Now for some new slight of hand until you guys doze off again. Its amazing that raising rate to an unaceptable level was the only way to pay until someone asked why. Maybe we should ask why more often. We need a group of canidates thats sole goal is to reduce government and government spending and if that means less service then so be it. I didn't say no service, I said less service.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

the tt has a story about a south county developer questioning a 300k water bill for his project- this stuff costs a lot and the government has to plan these things, but taxpayers should not prop up the profits or guarantee profits of developers. not all development is bad, but ALL development needs to pay its way. the taxpayers should be reimbursed when supporting profits.

By: Anonymous on 9/3/08

At the risk of confusing you with facts. . .

Typical Public Safety Retirement is 3% at 50 – if you work 30 years you can retire at 90%. Non-Public Safety Retirement is typically 2.5% at 55 – if you work 30 years you can retire at 75%. . . .you can still think that outrageous, but try to be accurate. . . .

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

Government does not produce one thing

Yeah, government doesn't do anything at all—until it's doing something, or failing to do something, that you think is essential. Hence budget battles such as we're seeing in California in which everyone — everyone — has line item that can't be cut. I thought this kind of idealogue died when Katrina made landfall or at least when Bear Stearns had its little brush with bringing down the global financial system.

Even Ayn Rand — in between trips to her friend's husband's bed — devised a special "ethics of emergencies," in which all laissez-faire bets are off and we are our brother's keepers. The question is, what's an "emergency"?

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

PR city, Atas. city, SLO city the CO. and the State government are all a huge PONZI scheme.

Just look at the payroll, the retirement (as Insider stated), the contracts and the lack of an income stream to match the out go.

Less government is good and it is coming to a bread line near you.

Work 20 years, get your retirement, work 18 years get your second retirement, work 15 years get your third by the time your are 73 and by then the average person will be living to 100.

Where is the money for all these retirements going to come from?

Government does not produce one thing – they distribute the tax money they collect from those not working for the government.

What is it now about 50% of the people working for the government?

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

to Bobby Brouchet

What about retired people living in these subdivisions with MelloRoos districts paying an extra 3k a year in property taxes. Next a $300 mo. water bill and a $200 a month sewer bill. What happens when all the development stops like it is now and you have a thousand people working for the city retiring at 90 percent of pay after just 20 years. In 60 years instead of 1000 on the payroll you have 4000 @ $100,000 per. Thats 400 mil. per year. Where will it end? I know you think my numbers are outrageous right? Show me your math of where this is going. Of course it will never get there because this system will crash there is no other option. The real question is how much debt will we take on before d-day?

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

Hey, Bobby Bouchet, you need an education on the facts behind the opposition. This isn't a NIMBY group. This group is very well educated and informed. This project is so bad, and so ridiculously typical of councils that have been around for way too long. App needs to be fired and the rest need to be recalled. There are way too many smart, qualified people who can do a better job than this current council. Stop talking and start reading, Bobby Boy. You're losing points with such an obviously uninformed argument. The opposition is not to the project. The opposition is to the council not following the laws they were hired to uphold. The laws that say they need to follow a certain proceedure before sticking their grubby little hands in taxpayers' pockets! Get an education.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

I'm NOT a developer…just an everyday "Bob" just like the other 30k people in Paso…

And "To Bobby" I'd love to see a working example of your Grand Master Plan. I think Saddam Husein had something similar going in Iraq. That worked out real well for him.

I love your radical theory craft, its highly entertaining. Paso Robles has been THE most fiscally conservative City in this County for years. It has proven that time again. Now when they need people to step up all the NIMBY's come out!

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

Spoken like a true developer.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

All governments are way too big! Half of what Paso needs can be done through outsourced consulting firms and the election process.

More government is NOT the answer. Remember this…we the people still own this joint.

I want my money back! Cut city Gov't to the bone now! If you are afraid buy insurance and a gun! Take back America.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

I cant wait for this NOT to be paid through the proposed means. I cant wait to hear the crying and sky is falling remarks, and consipacy theories when you cant get a Fireman to save your burning house or a Police Officer to rescue from the armed gunman who just robbed your local pizza shop, thenheld you hostage for 5 hours. Or worse yet you cry because of the traffic problems that aren't being addressed or the illegal aliens driving without licenses. The enlightened few opposing this process will be the first to bitch and moan about all the woe and heartache suffered as a consequence of their own actions. Stop feeling you have the right to drive an expensive car, eat out every night, and spend your money like a drunken sailor and learn to prioritize. Water is a priority…suck it up or better yet MOVE! Show your solidarity against this project by moving to San Miguel. San Miguel has that small town feel you all are craving so badly…ya, right you all are cowards who would rather bitch than look at the circumstances for what they truly are! No one is getting rich off of this – especially a City official.

Keep the crying coming…i'm enjoying the cutting and pasting so I can remind each of you how you felt when you so vehiemently opposed all of this and said cut all City personnel etc to the bone.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

I second that!

Let them loose their jobs!

How in the world will this mess ever get cleared up unless there is a consequence.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08


Yes we do want to cut city programs and for city employees to loose their jobs. As to Fred "Blank Check" Strong his ego is far to expensive to feed. Proud of Paso has an idea I also thought of. Figure out what your biggest Ag users are drawing out of the ground and give them the water in exchange for an agreement not to draw water therefore leaving it for residential consumers. If the bile is not OK for watering it must be great stuff.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

I'm sure it's not this simple but I will say this anyways. Why not use the Naci water for ag only freeing up all the ground water for human consumption…that would eliminate need for water treatment plant. Again i'm sure it's not that simple.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

Whatever happened to taxation without representation. These fat cats have been stealing from us too long. We need another Boston Tea Party

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

Strong has been bought and paid for. He's as corrupt as the rest and shoudl be prosecuted

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

Yes, there is a Mercury problem.No, the City doesn't want to talk about it. Yes, John Borst should run for Mayor and get rid of all these old geezers. It would be easier to add a tax to every ounce of grape juice produced in the county, and make those who are depleting the water source pay for it. Strong would like us to believe Prop.218 wasn't "in effect" at the "time". That's ok, Strong. You'll be one of those who are recalled, but not excused from possible prosecution when all is said and done. Every one of the council members who are involved in this should think twice about retaining or acquiring a seat on council (Steinbeck are you reading this?)because you'll be recalled. If the members of Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles can read and understand Prop. 218, that's the least that the constituents should be able to expect from coucilors.

By: Anonymous on 9/2/08

I agree that this whole thing snuck up on us. Before the bonds were purchased, there were no notices in the mail. No invitation to give our opinion. That was wrong. Early information was that the project was going to be about 150 million. Then, that it was going to be more like 210 million. And, of course, then it is REALLY getting the attention of the public. Like whoa! Didn't someone from the City know when they started figuring the cost of the pipeline that a treatment plant would also be needed?

But like the council says, it really can't be undone. It appears that we ARE going to have Nacimiento water. Plans are for a fixed amount on our water bills PLUS an amount that will soon double and quadruple in 5 years. And by then, it could be raised again.

The City says that new development will pay a big portion. This economy does not currently encourage new construction and it might be a long way off.

My understanding is that the original $36 approved last year pays for the pipeline itself. So far, we only have $18 of that each month on our statement. It was supposed to increase to $24 on July but it didn't. The City probably figured that the increase would be noticed and inspire more protests.

But, we are where we are. We can always use an alternate source of water. We don’t want to run out. We don’t want City programs cut or employees to lose their jobs. The City just has to go back to the drawing board and find a way to cover the water treatment plant. We already have the pipeline expense covered if we go to $36. We need a plan to pay for the rest. Maybe a sales tax? Maybe add a small surcharge to each bottle of wine sold? If nothing else, a large portion of this (maybe the cost of the treatment plant) should be an assessment that we property owners can at least write off on our income tax at the end of the year. Perhaps water rates should be at least 4-5-tiered much like our gas and electric bills. For example, the initial X amount of units that everybody uses (without qualifying low income) would be very very low, and then they would creep up steadily until the top range is reached. This would also encourage conservation. Remember Nacimiento also has dry years…..

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

we need a recall.

Recall App, the mayor, nemeth and the rest of these corrupt libs

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

wow- quite a hit for the residents to subsidize developers. do 'development fees' reimburse the citizens for this as new houses get developed that tap the water? will walmartzilla pay a fee for the water? when 'growth' becomes the mantra, the government turns into a pyramid scheme to run things. too bad the 'growth' has outstripped planning and common sense.

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

The City of Paso Robles officially recognized in Resolution 97-83 (1997) that water service was a property related charge. All City actions thereafter should have complied with this policy. Unfortunately, City Officials have since chosen to act otherwise and are now reaping the consequences of a flawed decision making process. Additionally, all Supreme Court decisions with respect to Prop 218 are retroactive, which consequently also holds the City libel for any poor decisions city officials made with respect to Proposition 218, The Right to Vote on Taxes Act. Finally, since 1997, capital projects have required a ballot vote. City Officials neglect to say this in any discussion they have presented to the public.

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

we need a recall.

Recall App, the mayor, nemeth and the rest of these corrupt libs

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

Apparently Fred Strong feels there was plenty of opportunity for the public to state their opinion on the pipeline over the years and its only after the puplic was told the costs of the project were they upset. No sh@t! In other words Fred you voted for a blank check on this and now your suprised the public cares. I will keep in mind your comments that the public is too uneducated to deal with this matter and it is your opinion that the voters should have no say when I vote. I say please step down at once if you plan to continue to approve projects you do not know the costs of and that you don't think the voters should have a say on. I believe all projects should come with a price tag and City Councils should have a limit to their authority. They have nothing at risk and they have no liability for their actions. Your egos are driving your actions and we are all paying the price. Wake up!

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

When the City initially slid this under the radar what was the predicted costs? 300 million? I find that hard to believe. Wouldn't it be fun to pull the minutes of those meetings so we could see what staff indicated the full costs and implecations of entering into the Nacimiento deal was? Would the existing residents at that time have supported this boondogle? Why are existing residents and contractors being asked to provide so improportionatley to provide for services that are so clearly for future development and for the existing vintners in the area? If the City wants to support these current and future developments they should consider an Ad-Volorum tax and not take advantage of a few thousand water customers. This is way out of line.

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

Why am I not surprised that many inbred Peso Roblans would rather take a Los Osos-esque approach than to proactively secure their future water needs.

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

Fire them all. Return to volunteer Fire departments with minimal paid staff. Use county sheriff for necessarry law enforcement. It should be obvious now the corruption that is present in these small city police departments. Reduce all other white collar staff to 50% pay and recruit new staff from other states that know what it costs. Eliminate all inclusionary housing and special treatment based on how poor you are. Reduce the board of Supervisors salary by 50%. Give bonouses to department heads based on efficiency and reduction of staff and overhead. Give priority to residents for all goverment jobs. Stop looking outside for the best and the brightest as you can see what that gets us. We can do it. Revolt!

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

This is just another ill- thought out pet project that we will pay for.

The mis-management by the state, county & local governments is coming home to roost.

Their mis-management appears to be no different than the hard money debacle that is playing out.

Maybe we should change the direction of the pay scale and make them on par with the lowest paid areas instead of the highest.

We can thank the unions for much of this.

The inability of those in office to buck the status quo has left the citizens who depended on them at their mercy.

When the cities, counties and state go bankrupt or close to it; Will there still be money for the fat salaries and pensions these government officials have negotiated for "THEIR" employees?

Not giving a second thought as to where the money comes from.

We are screwed………..

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

So App goes away and his salary with him. How does that put cheap water on the table? The damage is done and yes, App was there when it happened

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

The fact that App makes over 150k speaks for itself. Its far past the time to rid ourself of these carpet baggers and reduce all local government to the min. The staff at the City and County have us in a strangle hold. When we all go bankrupt and they have picked the bones clean they will move on. App's shyness to continue in the glutenous feast at the public trough may be the canary in the coal mine.

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

When Mr. App arrived in this quaint little town, his compensation was about $9,500/ month + benefits. His current compensation is $13,000/ month. What a noble gesture to decline a raise to $13,676/ month. So, it's not hard to understand why Mr. App is not the least bit concerned about the rising cost of water in Paso Robles. If the Board of Supervisors can shamelessly give themselves a raise, Mr. App ought to be bold enough to accept the raise which he bargained for.

By: Anonymous on 9/1/08

Paso City Council and the residents that elected them chose to have a city that resembles "Darn Near Bakersfield" with the acres of tract homes and tacky chain stores. . . . . and this is the price.

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

Yes. Atascadero is going to do that. They are very fortunate to have a geologic formation that allows filtration into a natural catch basin which leaks very slowly into the river. Therefore, the Atascadero Mutual Water Company has the ability to take advantage of that natural creation.

In the area that Paso Robles has a right to operate there is no such situation. In fact our gravels and geology are such that we are unable, pumping 24/7, to get our full allocation of water out of the river. We do not have a treatment plant now because we treat each water source at its well head. When we bring water from Lake Nacimiento, it will be in a quantity that doesn;t allow that. It must be treated for health and legal reasons,NOT because of Mercury which, according to all tests, is not a health concern. There are bacteria and numerous natural chemicals that must be accounted for before releasing it for consumption. There are numerous ways to treat water. Some are more expensive than others. Any one that is used nust meet State standards which are sometimes a moving target.

Atascadero is very fortunate. The natural filtration they have is sufficient, for the moment, to meet current State standards.

There is no question that our water, like theirs, must be treated. There may be some permissable variations on the exact method and quantity to be treated in any given period of time.

I'm not a water engineer and must rely on expert opinion in that regard.

Health and safety are not trivial matters to entrust to opinion or speculation. Flip statements or snap judgements can cause considerable damage to the health and safety of our community.

The best way to contain costs may have some room for opinion or judgement but we cannot afford to delay decisions beyond a theoretical point of no return. There comes a time when, absent unanimous opinion, a decision must be made. Any decision may still be subject to future modification if that modification proves to be in the best interest of the community. Of course, we also hope that it would be cost effective.

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

Forgive me if I missed the reason why we need a $100 million dollar treatment plant when we have access to the Salinas rive to use as a filter.

I think I heard Atascadero is going to do that. Is that correct?

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

Sorry for the double hit and one misspelling. My website is:

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

A lot of misinformation fostered by those who are good at half truths.

Prop. 218 at the time of the vote was touted as specifically NOT applying to water. After passage a court case which pitted the Jarvis Group against Los Angles confirmed that it didn't apply. Later Jarvis sued a small desert water company and overpowered its legal resources to win a decision that took effect in late 2006. The State then set the procedure for the required vote. It is a protest ballot which the City proceeded with as required by law.

These workshops and hearings go back to the mid-1980s with approval of the project being done in 1992.

This Council has implemented previous Councils' decisions, with good evidence and an obligation to do all within our legal jurisdiction to provide for the health and safety of our people.

There are many things in process in Sacramento that thereaten our other water sources. Most of them are outside of our control. This is a good decision that needs support and the most frugal and realistic way to pay the bill.

Revenue bonds are a standard way to pay for infrastructure involved in fee based commodities. The Oroville Dam was also financed by revenue bonds.

See my web site or the City's water web site for more good information.

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

This issue is way more complicated than represented by Blackburns article. Borst has no chance to win mayor as he is a "one trick pony."

Sadly we the people are screwed and the reason is, the city was allowed to double in population the last 20 years without serious thought to if there was enough water to support the growth. Got to go back to all the rubber stamped approval of all the building back in 1998 forward…the planning commission and the city councils past, are the ones to thank for the poor choices that are here now.

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

All of it

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

And exactly what eco-marxist crap are we discussing here?

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

This is going to one of thousands of tax increases if the #1 & #3 libs in congress get into the White House.

Until money grows on trees we are stuck with this.

Here is an interesting fact. California had the 7th biggest economy in the world 13 years ago. Today we are struggling to stay at #15 in the world.

Maybe it's time to lighten up on all this eco-marxist crap and turn things around.

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

Finally! Controversy in the North County, but not in Atascadero!

I think Jim App should give up his payraisei oh wait, he already did! Wade. . . ? ? ?

By: Anonymous on 8/31/08

There is no simple solution. The state is broke, so are most counties and chapter 8 funds will never be returned to the cities.

With that said we are all on our own.

The bottom line is the money has to come from somewhere.

Or do we drastically cut services?

We can not tax ourselves out of this problem.