Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho’s
Fix for Discovery Bay Taxpayers Passed By Contra Costa County Supervisors
Removal of Boundary Overlap
to Redirect Revenues to Struggling Agencies Providing Services
(Brentwood, CA) – In a unanimous decision on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho’s proposed fix aimed at correcting decades long siphoning by the Byron Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) of tax revenue from agencies who serve Discovery Bay residents.
Currently BBID’s jurisdiction partially overlaps with the Town Discovery Bay and both receive tax revenue or fees to provide water service, but only the Town of Discovery Bay actually provides water to the overlapping area and all other residents of Discovery Bay.
Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho stated, “Government agencies should not receive tax revenue from taxpayers when the agency is not providing a service. It is particularly egregious in this case as BBID was advised in 1993 that it was necessary to detach. BBID collected almost $700,000 last year without providing any service to Discovery Bay residents. This must stop.”
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor’s action calls on the San Joaquin County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) to detach the portions of the Town of Discovery Bay that are not served by BBID.
Contra Costa LAFCO records confirm that BBID was advised in 1993 that it would be necessary to detach Discovery Bay from the BBID boundary due to the fact that it was unlikely Discovery Bay would ever need a water supply from BBID. In 1993, according to a LAFCO MSR, the General Manager, Rick Gilmore, asked for more time to complete a groundwater management plan.
On November 12, 2015, in a meeting with County officials and community stakeholders, BBID officials agreed that it was unlikely BBID’s water supply would ever be used by Discovery Bay. General Manager, Rick Gilmore admitted that it would be unlikely that, even in a severe drought, that the Town could rely on BBID water. Gilmore further acknowledged that an investment of more than $500 million to construct a new water treatment facility would be necessary before any of BBID’s raw, untreated water could ever be made available to Town residents.
BBID’s 2014 financial statements showed an operating surplus of 10% and net income for the year of $4.8 million which was allocated to the District’s reserves. As part of the proposed detachment process, the District will have the opportunity to clarify what effect, if any, a detachment would have on its water rates, and to explain why it is critical to its ongoing operations that BBID be allowed to collect taxes from properties it does not serve.
While a detachment from BBID would not reduce the tax bills of affected Discovery Bay residents, it would reallocate funds to the agencies that actually serve the residents of Discovery Bay. A detachment could result in a redirection of the Irrigation District tax revenues from the overlapping areas to other local taxing entities, such as the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, for the benefit of Discovery Bay residents and East Contra Costa County in general.
Earlier this month, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District’s Board of Directors directed its own staff to develop a proposal to transfer $200,000 per year for 5 years to the beleaguered East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
“I appreciate that BBID has recognized the funding needs of the East County Fire Protection District but larger problems need fixing. We need to correct this boundary error and put the nearly $700,000 of revenues where it more appropriately belongs like East County Fire.”
LAFCo is the agency responsible for coordinating changes to local government boundaries, including annexations, consolidations and detachments. The action Tuesday by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to apply for the detachment from Byron-Bethany Irrigation District of overlapping areas in Discovery Bay is the first step in a methodical process that ensures the orderly formation and development of all the governmental agencies within a jurisdiction.