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Election: Perris voters weigh in on water, sewer utility sales

By in Press Enterprise on November 8, 2017

By David Downey, Craig Shultz

Perris voters went to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, to decide twin ballot measures seeking the community’s approval to sell city-owned water and sewer systems and if early results hold, approval or failure for one will be by a slim margin.

Measure G, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage, would give Perris the green light to seek buyers for a sewer system that serves 2,366 homes and businesses in the downtown area.

As of the first results released by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, the measure garnered 63 percent yes votes and 37 percent no votes from mail-in ballots that had been tallied.

City officials already have found a buyer for the city’s two water systems, which serve 3,723 customers in downtown and the Villages of Avalon along Ramona Expressway. A simple majority vote in favor of Measure H would sanction the proposed $11.5 million sale to Liberty Utilities.

Measure H was well above the majority margin in the earliest results, with 66 percent yes and 34 percent no, also from mail-in ballots.

At 8:30 p.m., the registrar said poll workers are performing legally required closing procedures at the polling places before ballots went to the collection center, then to the Registrar of Voters office for counting.

“Transporting ballots takes some time, so the number of counted ballots will not increase significantly for a few hours,” the office posted on Facebook.

Officials say the utilities are losing money, piling up debt and siphoning cash from core municipal services, and they want to get out of the water and sewer business. As for the water sale, it would retire millions in debt and liabilities, officials said.

Perris spokesman Joe Vargo said about $1 million would be left over from the sale and used to improve city parks.

Raul Mark […]    

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