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Paso Robles voters to weigh in on Measure A-09 this week

Modified: Monday, Nov 2nd, 2009

Voters in Paso Robles will have the chance to weigh in on Measure A-09 and whether to accept or reject a water rates increase approved by the City Council to fund Nacimiento Water Project loan obligations, a new treatment plant and other water infrastructure improvements that was challenged by members of the group Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles.

The measure, which has garnered the support of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, city officials and others concerned about the ability for Paso Robles to pay for a reliable, long-term water supply from Nacimiento, has also sparked opposition from CCPR members who filed a lawsuit alleging the city illegally \"imposed\" water and sewer fees in violation of Proposition 218 in 2002 and 2004 and seeking the return to ratepayers of an estimated $8 million. CCPR members initiated the certified water rate referendum petition opposing the city\'s adopted water rates structure outlined in Ordinance 953 N.S. The city currently holds payment obligations for Nacimiento water set to commence in mid-2010. According to City Manager Jim App, the city is still committed to pay for Nacimiento water beginning July 2010 whether it has income sufficient to pay for it or not. He projected that the city may be forced to pay for Nacimiento Water Project water for up to a year or more without using it if water rates aren\'t established.

There has already been indication early on that even if voters decide to approve Measure A-09, it would likely be challenged.

CCPR leader John Borst, who spearheaded the petition drive, has said he thought the \"fee\" imposed should be considered a \"special tax\" and that there are \"other options available\" for the council to consider.

\"If there is to be a vote on the water rates, make it a vote on a special tax to be held at the next general election or, better yet, by a development\'s Mello-Roos district,\" a past statement by CCPR read. \"In no way to the members of CCPR endorse an election... to achieve an unjust end the adoption of a fee, which in reality is a special tax.\"

Of the approximately 7,600 permanent vote-by-mail ballots mailed out for the city of El Paso de Robles special election on Oct. 5 through the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder\'s office, approximately 3,833, or roughly 50 percent, had been received back as of press time. Clerk-recorder officials could not estimate how many individuals would likely show up to the six polling places in Paso Robles to cast their votes on Tuesday. The vote-by-mail total could increase, however, since vote-by-mails ballots were anticipated to continue to flow into the office on Monday and Tuesday.

Actual election results would most likely be tabulated late Tuesday evening, according to County Clerk-recorder spokesman Tommy Gong.

\"We have been telling folks that we are expecting [election results] between 10 and 11 [p.m.],\" Gong said.

Voters will head out to six polling places today to cast their votes with the exception of the Estrella Warbird Museum, which will not be used for the election. In order to pass, a simple majority vote would be required.

Anyone who would like to view the full text of the measure can download a PDF file online through the Clerk-Recorder\'s Web site at www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/CR/Elections/November+3$!2c+2009+Uniform+District+Election/City+of+Paso+Robles+Measure+A-09.pdf.

* Polling place lookup feature

During the Nov. 3 special election, the clerk-recorder\'s office will be implementing a \"Polling Place Look-Up\" feature on its Web site.

The new feature is geared to assist voters to locate their polling place on election day. According to the clerk-recorder\'s office, a voter can simply input his or her residence address as registered to vote and the results will inform the voter where the assigned polling place is located.

Voters will be able to view a sample image of their ballot, use a Google map feature to provide directions on how to get there and accessibility-focused photos for voters with disabilities.

The effort is the results of a grant received earlier in 2009 by the clerk-recorder\'s office to enhance accessibility to polling places and is expected to be valuable to local voters. The Web site link is www.slocounty.ca.gov/clerk/elections.htm. Anyone with questions about their polling place, accessibility to the poll or any election issue is encouraged to contact the Clerk-Recorder Elections Division at 781-5228.

* Polling place summary:

* Paso Robles Event Center, 2198 Riverside Ave.

* St. James Episcopal Church, 514 14th St.

* Grace Baptist Church, 535 Creston Road

* Centennial Park Live Oak Room, 600 Nickerson Drive

* Paso Robles Schools District Administration Building, 600 Niblick Road

* Paso Robles Veterans Hall, 240 Scott St.

For the complete article see the 11-03-2009 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-03-2009 paper.

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