City Council voted 4-2 to support the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s ballot measure for Gilroy’s November election during their regular meeting Monday night.
The measure, known as the Safe Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Plan, seeks to extend the special parcel tax established in 2000 that would otherwise expire in 2016 for another 15 years. The measure, which does not increase current tax rates, will require two-thirds voter support to pass in November.
The Council ended up agreeing to support the measure, although that decision did face some opposition.
Councilman Dion Bracco characterized the measure as a money grab from the water district.
“They asked for the money, and the voters say OK go ahead and tax us, and then at the end of the 15 years, now they say why don’t you do it again, you’re used to paying for it,” Bracco said.
Councilman Peter Arellano voted yes to support the measure, but not without making his reservations about it known.
“There are a number of things about the water district that I don’t agree with,” he said. “There are some projects I like, but I’m not quite sure what they’re doing with the money.
“They said it was temporary, and now they are saying it’s temporary again.”
According to a report from the water district, funding for the measure would reduce toxins and contaminants such as mercury and pharmaceuticals, protect dams from earthquakes and natural disasters, restore wildlife habitats and provide flood protection to homes, business, schools streets and highways.
Two of the projects funded by the measure would provide “significant benefits to the South County,” according to City Administrator Tom Haglund, such as the $45 million Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project in Morgan Hill, which is currently limited to 68 percent of its water capacity due to seismic concerns, and the $39.1 million Upper Llagas Creek Flood Control Project, which will help protect 5,000 homes, schools and businesses from flooding.
Bracco, along with Councilman Bob Dillon, voted against supporting the measure. Councilman Perry Woodward was not present for the meeting.
The Water District Board passed the ballot measure at their regular July 24 meeting with a unanimous 7-0 vote. Gilroy mayoral candidate Don Gage currently sits on that board.
Also during Monday’s meeting:
On a 6-0 vote, Council approved Mayor Al Pinheiro’s draft response to Santa Clara Civil Grand Jury’s report that highlighted the need for public pension reform and reductions to public employee benefits.