AVUTA endorses Measure W (October 12, 2016)

Money spent on water not going to students, proponents say

APPLE VALLEY — The Apple Valley Unified Teachers Association put its weight behind a ballot measure that proponents say will put the town on the path to community ownership of the water system owned by Liberty Utilities.

In a statement released last week, AVUTA President John Zachau endorsed Measure W and asked the organization’s members to vote yes on the local ballot initiative.

Measure W was placed on the ballot by the Town Council in July in response to the voterinitiated Right to Vote on Debt Act — or Measure V — which is funded by Liberty and aims to require a vote before the issuance of bond debt in excess of $10 million.

Proponents of the Council-initiated Measure W say Measure V is too broadly defined and would slow the political process by requiring voter approval for other projects — not just acquisition of Liberty’s water system. They tout Measure W as a common sense alternative that would require voter approval of any town debt over $5 million.

Voting would not apply, however, in instances wherein the Council conducts a public hearing, certifies that revenue from projects will exceed debt payments, certifies that debt will not be paid by the taxing power of the town and requires annual independent audits. A future vote on the town’s acquisition of the water system would be excluded from the debt limit and safeguards laid out in Measure W because a yes vote equals a vote for acquisition.

While proponents refer to the conditions as safeguards, opponents have stated the safeguards already exist. They believe Measure W undermines voters and town residents would not be guaranteed the right to vote on debt if it passes.

On Tuesday, Right to Vote on Debt Act Committee Co-Chair Pat Hanson announced her disapproval of the endorsement.

As an Apple Valley resident and strong supporter of local schools, I am disappointed that the teachers union would endorse Measure W, a measure that gives politicians a blank check to approve more than $200 million in new debt without a vote of the people, Hanson said in a statement. Measure W asks voters to give up their right to vote and is a product of establishment politics where special interests are undermining more than 4,000 Apple Valley residents who simply want to hold government accountable.

Meanwhile, Our Water Now Committee Chairman Rick Piercy said it’s clear to AVUTA’s 500 members that high water rates are affecting enrollment into Apple Valley Unified School District schools.

People just don’t want to move into Apple Valley, Piercy said. … The school district spends untold thousands on water costs and fees that could be spent on student learning programs.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press

Files related to Measure V