It’s been three-quarters of a year since Los Angeles County voters approved Measure W, the “The Safe, Clean Water Act” with a better than two to one margin (69.45 percent), November 6, 2018. The tax collection from property owners began recently, at the opening gun of the county’s new fiscal year (2019-2020), which started July 1.

Measure W created a special tax for parcels located in the county’s 2,700-square mile flood control district, which is home to 2.1 million taxable parcels of land. The Measure W tax rate is $.02.5-cents-per-square-foot of “impermeable area” (i.e.,paved or built-on surfaces that prevent “stormwater and urban runoff from entering the earth,” like concrete patios, parking lots and driveways).

The new revenue will be shared across a potpourri of governments—40 percent for the 86 cities in the district, 50 percent to special “watershed areas” and 10 percent to the flood control district, which already has more than $650 million unspent dollars tucked away in its double-secret $2.1 billion budget.

 

How Will They Spend It

The tax revenue awarded at every level is supposed to pay for projects, infrastructure, and programs to capture, treat and recycle stormwater. There are already questions about how many of the smaller communities will find it hard to pay their share (usually 50 percent). This is where ECA’s “local” effort with our union trade partners could provide big opportunities for our members.

We’ve bird-dogged a few useful resources to help these small towns in the big county. If the project is designed to reduce pollution in your water, your best bet is the low-interest loans through the state water board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) which offer:

  • Low, Low-Interest Rates – ½ most recent State General Obligation Bond Rate, which in April of 2019 meant the loan interest rate was a whopping 1.3 percent
  • Financing Term – Up to 30 years or useful life
  • Financing Amount – No maximum funding or disbursement limit
  • Repayment – Begins one year after construction completion

The next best source of matching funds is the bank…a very special bank:

 

California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank. This bank is a very low-cost financing option for a wide range of infrastructure projects used to dealing with small communities. The bank operates through the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDWSRF). Through 2018 it provided nearly $89 million in short-term loans to communities since 2013. These matching funds allowed the SDWSRF to receive $445 million in federal grants.

 

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ,ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]