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Water district tax renewal on November ballot

The Santa Clara County Water District’s board of directors last month voted unanimously to place a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to renew the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan parcel tax that expires in 2016.

Santa Clara County home- owners – including those in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View – will be asked to approve a 15-year, $548 million parcel tax.

To pass, the measure must secure approval from two-thirds of the county’s voters. The tax would cost the average homeowner $54 the first year and subsequently increase by 3 percent each year through 2029.

According to water district officials, revenues generated from the tax would be applied to maintaining the safety of the local water supply, reducing contaminants in water, preparing dams and water infrastructure for natural disasters, restoring natural habitats and protecting communities from flooding.

Among the largest individual proposed expenditures from the parcel tax are a $45 million seismic retrofit of Anderson Dam – the county’s largest surface water reservoir – $41 million in infrastructure improvements for the upper Penitencia Creek in San Jose; $21 million for mercury and toxin removal from streams, reservoirs and lakes countywide; and $17 million for revegetation projects to bring the water district in compliance with environmental regulations.

The original Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan parcel tax passed with support from 66.9 percent of voters in 2000. The agency reports that revenue from the current tax funded the completion of the Calabazas Creed Flood Protection Plan, removal of nearly 4,200 pounds of mercury from some of the district’s 700 miles of streams and construction of 66 miles of public trails.

Although Los Altos Hills City Councilman Gary Waldeck expressed concern with approving another tax for the water district, the council voted unanimously July 31 to endorse the tax. The cities of Los Altos and Mountain View have yet to endorse or oppose the measure.

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