Del Mar property owners have until 5 p.m. Sept. 15 to return their clean water fee ballots to City Hall. The ballots, which were mailed in July, include two questions, both of which must be answered to be considered valid votes.
Property owners are being asked to ratify the current five-year rate structure and approve a proposed increase that will become effective July 1, 2009.
Mandated clean water programs require cities to implement specific procedures to minimize the amount of pollution entering the ocean and lagoons. When Del Mar adopted its program in 2001, general fund money was used for implementation.
In 2004, the city opted to fund the programs by establishing a five-year rate schedule that added a fee to utility bills. But two years later, the California Supreme Court ruled such fees require voter approval, which is being sought in the first part of the current Del Mar ballot.
With the 2004 rate schedule set to expire next year, the second ballot question seeks approval for a proposed increase.
Only one vote per parcel is allowed. Property owners, including landlords, may vote, but renters, although ratepayers, cannot. A public hearing will be held Sept. 22 to report the results. The measures will be adopted if favored by the majority of ballots returned, not the number of legal parcels in the city. Replacement ballots are available at City Hall, 1050 Camino del Mar. For more information, call (858) 755-9313.
Del Mar has had no beach closures for five consecutive years, which city officials say is a result of clean water programs. Mandates have also resulted in city beaches receiving an A+ or A on the Heal the Bay annual beach report card.