Costa Mesa Council Votes “Yes” On Water And Sanitary Districts Advisory Measure

The Costa Mesa City Council voted on Tuesday to support a “yes” vote on Measure TT, and advisory ballot measure asking ratepayers in the Mesa Water District and Costa Mesa Sanitary District if they favor merging the two special districts.

The Mesa Water District is aggressively pursuing consolidation. It hired a consultant to conduct a study on the matter; the ensuing report claims consolidation will save millions of dollars. In July, it voted to place Measure T on the ballot.

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District, for its part, is opposes the idea, claiming the study is inaccurate and politically motivated. The district went so far as to sue Mesa Water over the wording of Measure TT; both sides ultimately agreed to a settlement amending the language.

The original ballot question as phrased by Mesa Water was:

“Shall the Mesa Water District and the Costa Mesa Sanitary District pursue consolidation if it could result in a one-time savings of up to $15.6 million, which equates to $650 per ratepayer, and annual savings of as much as $2.7 million, which includes wastewater rate reductions of up lo 28%, as identified in the Optimal Governance Structure Study prepared by Arcadis U.S., lnc.?”

Just a little bit biased.

The settlement changed the ballot question to the more neutral and straighforward:

“Shall the Mesa Water District and Costa Mesa Sanitary District pursue consolidation?”

OC Daily is currently agnostic on the advisability of consolidation, but either way the ballot box strikes us as a poor place to start the process – especially when one of the parties is so unwilling. It’s our belief that the constantly growing tendency to punt governmental decision-making directly to the voters makes for poor governance. On balance, direct democracy’s track record isn’t a very good one.

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