Santa Clara Valley Water District Ballot Moves Forward

Two words have been deleted from the measure, which is expected to be put before voters.

Two potentially costly words have been deleted, and now, at least according to the Santa Clara Valley Water District on Tuesday, voters will be able to decide on approving a $548-million parcel tax in November.

Water district spokesman Marty Grimes said the board is meeting late Tuesday to discuss the issue, but as far as he knew, the parcel tax was moving forward as planned.

The brouhaha, first reported in the Mercury News, began when the water district turned in ballot language with a summary of the measure totaling  77 words. Under election law, summaries can be no longer than 75 words. The two extra words were "as" and "No."

When elections  officials alerted the water district about the error on Aug. 7, the district held a board meeting Aug. 8  to approve a rewritten measure, this time with two fewer words.

Trouble was, according to the Mercury News, the district didn't post a public agenda of the Aug. 8 meeting on its website, or send it out to the media, 24 hours ahead of time as required under California's open meetings law, the Brown Act. It missed those deadlines by less than an hour.

That  drew major criticism from the Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association, which sent a letter to the district threatening legal action.

But as of Tuesday, Grimes said he wasn't aware of any formal legal action the taxpayers' group had taken.

"Their quibbling would be on the posting of the special meeting; they're claiming it wasn't posted correctly, and therefore is invalid," Grimes said. "Our assertion was that it would be very unfortunate to deny the voters a chance to vote."

The measure, called the Safe, Clean Water Program, asks voters to renew an existing expiring parcel tax without increasing rates to issue bonds that aim to ensure safe, reliable water by reducing toxins, hazards and contaminants in waterways, restore wildlife habitat and provide open space, among other things.

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