East County Times editorial: Bethel Island voters should vote yes on Measure X
MediaNews editorial Posted: 09/24/2010 12:01:00 AM PDT
MUCH OF BETHEL Island lies below sea level and relies on levees for its existence as a residential- agricultural area. Those levees and drainage need to undergo regular maintenance and improvements if they are to guarantee protection for island property owners. Keeping the levees up to grade and making necessary improvements to them, drainage and pumps is a considerable expense, most of which must be borne by those who directly benefit. That is why the Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District has placed a parcel tax, Measure X, on the November ballot. It asks property owners to approve a special tax of $252.29, applicable to all taxable parcels (excluding legal parcels that are entirely underwater) within Bethel Island for each of 10 fiscal years, beginning July 1, 2011, to maintain and improve levees and drainage. The project includes the placement of riprap along the shoreline to prevent erosion and to help stabilize the banks. An all-weather surface for levee crowns made of aggregate base rock would be placed to provide a stable and lasting road base. Also, levees would be raised to two feet above a 100-year flood level.
Measure X would provide funds for ditch maintenance, debris removal, culvert replacement and vegetation control. Additionally, the measure would fund elevating and resizing two pumping stations. The total cost of the levee and drainage work is estimated at $6,618,102. Fortunately, the state Department of Water Resources will pay half of the cost of some of the work, totaling $2,431,551. Another $150,000 would come from Contra Costa County Public Works. Owners of the 1,600 Bethel Island parcels will be responsible for $4,036,551 of the cost of the p roject, or $403,655 per year for each of 10 years. That is how the $252.29 per parcel cost was calculated. There is no way to avoid these levee and drainage improvements without jeopardizing the safety of Bethel Island properties. The cost of just over $21 a month is a reasonable and affordable expense for a necessary project. We urge all Bethel Island property owners to vote yes on Measure X, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage.