• Pacific Grove City Council says “not yet” to JPA

    In a special meeting called to examine the proposed Joint Powers Authority drawn by six area mayors, a majority of Pacific Grove’s councilmembers turned down the proposal – but not the idea. Without a vote on the current version, which was obviously going to go against the JPA based on discussion, the council instead moved to wait until the next scheduled City Council meeting in hopes that some of their questions would be answered.

    Along with nearly everyone who addressed the council in person and in correspondence, all councilmembers said they wanted to see assurances that the 34 percent of ratepayers who do not live in cities covered by the JPA would have a voice, probably through the Water Management District. Mayor Garcia gave verbal assurance that they would be added, but councilmembers were steadfast.

    Another issue that many of the councilmembers raised was that of the funding. Ken Cuneo asked how Pacific Grove was going to find the money, $25,000 up front, to pay a director’s salary let alone any prospective employees when “we’re hanging by a thread” as it is.

    The opposition Rudy Fischer expressed included questions around the need for a JPA in the first place when there are already organizations charged with the same thing – the Water Management District – which actually have expertise while the mayors do not.

    Alan Cohen didn’t like the provision that the city representative always be the mayor or the vice mayor. He said that it should be someone with more expertise, and other councilmembers agreed.

    Asking, “If through all these years we haven’t come up with any new water, what is it about the JPA that’s going to end the fights?”

    Robert Huitt was probably the most adamant about not joining the JPA yet. He said he thought it was “sprung” on the councils – it only came to light last Thursday – and that it should be continued.

    Vice Mayor Bill Kampe didn’t like the weighted voting portion, nor did other councilmembers. Fearing that the “big boys” would push little Pacific Grove around, he said he wanted to see the weighted voting “punched” or discussed before agreeing. He did second the Mayor’s motion to pass the JPA in the first place, but said he wanted more time to have questions answered.

    “Can the Water Management District advocate for all the ratepayers?” he asked David Stoldt of the District, who had addressed the council earlier. The answer was yes, and Stoldt added that the WMD had provided data and also monitored ratesetting and financial impact, adding to the reasons it should be added to the JPA. Fifth District representative and former Pacific Grove Mayor Jeanne Byrne concurred.

    (Councilmember Dan Miller was absent due to illness.)

    Libby Downey, Monterey’s Vice Mayor and a board member of the Water Pollution Control Agency, cautioned against passing it and told the council she thought they should wait a month to look at it, after revisions had been made. She advised adding the PCA to the mix.

    The JPA will be formed even if only two City Councils agree. Carmel already agreed, earlier this week, though many of the same objections were raised at their meeting. Monterey, Seaside, Sand City and Del Rey Oaks all meet in the next few weeks. When City Manager Tom Frutchey advised that if Pacific Grove joined before Jan. 24 (when all the other cities will have voted), it could still be a charter member, the original motion to pass was withdrawn and a continuation to the Jan. 18 regular city council meeting was agreed upon.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 13, 2012

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News

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