BY DONNA WESTFALL
- Start a fund to create a non-profit Taxpayers Association immediately.
- Having a non-profit status allows reduced fees and free advertising in the newspaper and on the radio.
- Create a telephone tree to alert all those on the water or sewer system about their Prop 218 rights.
- Assemble volunteers and hire signature gatherers in the first week. Divide the territory by sections of the City.
- At today’s rate, print up at least the equivalent of 2,000 protest letters; 3 to a page.
- Have 2 back office people doing the following:
- Checking off valid protests by continually updating the data base.
- Contacting the largest property owners first including those that live out of town
- Assigning streets to signature gatherers, with follow-up daily.
- Oftentimes it takes 2 and 3 attempts to get someone home to obtain a signature, so scotch tape notices to their front doors in the first 2 weeks,
- Start advertising on the radio and in the newspaper the first week.
- Request a listing from the city for their most current customer users.
They usually provide an assessor’s parcel list only. Request this list as
soon as the council starts discussions on rate increases.
- Assemble at least a dozen clip boards, blue pens and scotch tape.
- Place ads
Here are some of the pitfalls we experienced this time.
I posted a listing at the workforce center and got 2 gentlemen who responded. Both were good workers in that they understood the directions and followed directions. Both stopped working without any explanation and did not return their materials after a few days.
I posted listings on Crescent City Sweet Deals and got great responses. Most of the workers did not follow directions. Most quit after a couple of days. Some were simply incapable. Some did not show up. I found few people that were goal oriented or willing to see the project through from start to finish.
Those that have been involved in previous campaigns including prior rate protests and fluoride protests were burnt out and wanted a break and resented that more people from the public did not get involved.
Some that continued worked short hours and wouldn’t work outside in the rain or wind. Some complained if it was too hot or too cold.
Few were able to work 8 hours a day; day in and day out. Most would only work 1, 2 or 3 hours at a time.
Many did not drive or have a car and had to be shuttled around.
Very effective is to have someone at the Water Department sitting at a table particularly around the beginning and end of the month.
Typically 8 – 10 signatures per hours is an average return on time spent in neighborhoods, and less signatures per hour in areas where the houses are further apart.
We had to continually remind our signature gatherers that they are not to take signatures from people on septic, or from people who live in apartment buildings where water/sewer is included in their rent, or from mobile home parks since they have master leases with the city and only get 1 vote. Hundreds of protests had to be discarded because of this.
- Approximately 30 people came and went.
- Building and maintaining an accurate database is essential to defeating future rate increases since the City will not provide anything other than an assessor’s parcel list of users.
- The next step is a referendum. That will go on the November 2014 ballot to repeal this sewer rate increase.
- Contrasting a Prop 218 protest vote with a referendum means that the County users will not have a voice. During the Prop 218 process ALL utility users have the right to say, ” NO” to any increases because it’s not the type of vote that includes being a registered voter. A referendum would allow only City voters to have a voice because the sewer plant is a city enterprise.