Water and public safety on tap for A.G. council

Arroyo Grande voters could have a chance to weigh in on two issues — water and public safety — in the June election.

The Arroyo Grande City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to consider placing two measures on the June ballot.

One would ask voters whether they authorize the city to purchase state water; the other seeks to sell $6.7 million in bonds to finance construction of a new police station.

If the council decides to move both measures forward, it will cost about $65,000 to put them on the ballot, including “public education” efforts.

A similar ballot measure to fund a police station at West Branch Street and Rodeo Drive was defeated by voters in June 2010.

City officials have since determined that location is needed for some improvements to the Brisco Road intersection with Highway 101. Five other sites will be discussed at the council’s Feb. 14 meeting.

City officials say the police headquarters, which was last expanded in 1989, needs more space for detectives, evidence storage, an adequate area to house computer equipment, an expanded dispatch center and an emergency operations center to coordinate disaster response.

To avoid increasing property taxes, which is how bonds are usually paid back, the city is relying on obtaining financing through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also, the city would retire 2003 fire station bonds and use the property tax revenue associated with that measure, plus sales tax revenue, to make annual bond payments.

If the council places that measure on the ballot, two-thirds of Arroyo Grande voters must vote in its favor.

The other proposed ballot measure, if successful, would enable Arroyo Grande to purchase state water to diversify the city’s water sources and provide water for future development. The city relies on water from Lopez Lake reservoir and local aquifers.

In 1990, voters approved a measure requiring a public vote before the city can purchase state water.

The city is in its third year of a five-year agreement to purchase some water for about $155,000 a year from the Oceano Community Services District.

If Arroyo Grande voters approve that measure, the city intends to time its state water purchase with the expiration of the Oceano agreement.

“The objective is to maintain costs relatively close to what is currently paid to (Oceano) to minimize any impact on the city’s water rates,” City Manager Steve Adams wrote in a staff report.