The mail-in ballots for a Contra Costa County measure for a "Clean Water" parcel fee were due at 5 p.m. Friday, but the result is not expected to be known until three weeks from now, said a representative of the agency that organized the unusual election.
"They anticipate it will take three weeks to count all the ballots," said Tracy Hein, administrative analyst for the Contra Costa Clean Water Program. "It's being done by hand."
Owners of parcels in Contra Costa County received mail ballots for a proposed 2012 Community Clean Water Initiative, which would add between $6 and $22 per year on the property tax bills of most parcels. The money would be used to help local governments meet stricter standards for water run-off entering streams and the Bay.
The election generated some public confusion and criticism since it is being conducted under the infrequently used Proposition 218, which permits an election for a parcel fee to pass with a simple majority, instead of the two-thirds needed for a parcel tax. The vote is also being sponsored, not by the county elections department, but by the Contra Costa Clean Water Program, a consortium of the county's 19 cities plus the county government and the county flood-control district.
The votes are being tabulated by Carol Keane and Associates, CPA, of Walnut Creek. A representative of the firm who answered the phone Friday declined to comment and referred all questions to the Contra Costa Clean Water Program.
In response to a Patch request for comment Friday, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said by email, "I'm hopeful that the voters saw the benefit in funding needed storm water system improvements in order to improve water quality in our local creeks and the Bay. At the same time, I intend to make sure that the 19 cities and the County do a better job explaining how these revenues will be spent so the public can have more confidence in the Clean Water Program."
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