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Voters to decide fate of Perris water, sewer utility sales

By in Press Enterprise on November 3, 2017

By David Downey

Perris voters go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, to weigh in on its plan to sell the municipal water and sewer systems that serve parts of the fast-growing Riverside County community.

Officials say the systems are losing money, piling up debt and siphoning cash from other city services. Voters will be asked to consider authorizing the sale of those systems in twin ballot measures.

Passage of Measure G requires a two-thirds vote. If that threshold is reached, the city will solicit bidders for its downtown sewer system.

Measure H addresses the city’s two water systems, serving downtown and the Villages of Avalon. It differs from the other measure in that passage requires a simple majority vote, and there is a specific offer on the table.

A yes vote on Measure H would clear the way for selling the water systems to Liberty Utilities for $11.5 million.

A no vote for Measure H, and a less-than-two-thirds yes vote for Measure G, means Perris would continue to operate the utilities.

Perris has 2,366 sewer and water customers in the downtown area, according to a city attorney analysis, and 1,357 residential water customers in the Villages of Avalon along Ramona Expressway. Citywide, there are more than 16,000 homes.

A drain on the city

There are concerns about the future of the water utility if it remains with the city.

“There is a lot of infrastructure work that is going to be needed in the future. It’s going to be a pretty big draw on city resources in coming years,” said Ron Carr, a consultant and retired assistant city manager. “It serves only a small portion of the city, yet it draws money away from the entire city.”

So Perris decided to get out of the water and sewer business and focus on core services, Carr said.

Perris resident […]    

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