Water Tax – SB 623 and Budget Trailer Bill
A proposed statewide tax on drinking water is being advanced through Senate Bill 623, a two-year bill introduced in 2017 by William Monning (D-Carmel), and a 2018 Brown Administration budget trailer bill related to safe drinking water. The public goods tax would be added to water bills and used to fund drinking water solutions for disadvantaged communities.
As currently structured, SB 623 would raise an estimated $160 million in annual revenue. Of that total, approximately 85 percent would be collected through a tax on drinking water provided to residential, businesses, industrial and institutional customers; the remaining 15 percent would be collected through a tax on confined animal facilities, bulk or packaged fertilizer materials, and dairies and producers of milk.
Supporters of the tax cite the urgent need to provide safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities and find a reliable solution to important public health issues.
Opponents of the tax agree with the goal but believe that a tax on drinking water works against the goal of keeping water affordable and that alternative funding solutions should be utilized.
On July 18, 2018, Helix Water District’s board of directors adopted Resolution 18-29, opposing (unless amended) a tax on drinking water.
Prohibitions on Shutoff – SB 998
Senate Bill 998, introduced by Bill Dodd (D-Napa) would create a statewide program that would establish state-wide limits on how a water provider handles residential water service disconnections for non-payment, including establishing a cap on reconnection fees.
Supporters of the bill state that it would protect low-income families from having their water service disconnected as water prices statewide continue to increase.
Opponents of the bill are concerned that the cap on reconnection fees have no direct relationship with a water provider’s actual costs to reconnect service, triggering Proposition 218 concerns, and preventing disconnections would result in a loss of revenue for non-profit water providers, requiring other customers to shoulder the burden of these missed payments.
On July 18, 2018, Helix Water District’s board of directors adopted Resolution 18-30, opposing Senate Bill 998.