Petition drive begins

Taxpayers League wants to see controls on Middle Fork revenue spending
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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The League of Placer County Taxpayers is at the forefront of a petition drive that could see voters being asked in November to put Middle Fork Project spending controls in place. The project’s operations, maintenance and revenue stream is due to revert to the Placer County Water Agency and Placer County in 2013. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been operating the system of dams and power plants on the American River’s middle fork since 1963 under an agreement with the agency and the county. With revenues generated by power sales expected to be between $30 million and $100 million annually, Taxpayers League President Wally Reemelin said the petition drive would be the first step in letting voters decide to control how that money is spent. Placer County estimates are less than that, depending on water supply and the amount of maintenance the half-century-old project needs. Supporters of the petition drive include Placer County Water Agency Director Ben Mavy, Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes, former Auburn City Councilman Bob Snyder and former county supervisor Phil Ozenick of Roseville, Reemelin said. “Politicians have salivated over using the money for any pet projects they want,” Reemelin said. Instead, voters would be asked to put in place requirements that would limit spending to water-related agencies and districts. And the money would be earmarked for fire, water, infrastructure, water quality, water treatment and conveyance capital improvements. “This will prevent spending for traffic congestion or salary increases,” Reemelin said. “It can only be used for capital expenditures, not for salaries.” The drive for the ballot box needs the signatures of 13,000 registered voters. Reemelin said the goal is to hand them in to the county elections division by May – enough time to get it approved for the November ballot. An alternative could be for the county Board of Supervisors to put a measure on the ballot with the same wording, Reemelin said. “This is a chance for them to be heroes to their constituents,” Reemelin said.