Board Moves Forward with 218 Election Process
At their December 20 meeting, the North Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) board approved the recommendation by their technical consultants, Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group, to consider a 5-year budget and an average cost per acre of $10 as factors for completing an Engineer’s Report, which is the first requirement for setting in motion the process for an assessment election. The election allows landowners within the North Fork Kings territory to vote on an assessment to fund the North Fork Kings GSA activities. The total assessable acreage in the North Fork Kings is approximately 164,000 acres.
At the Board’s October meeting, it was decided a 218 majority-approval election process would be used. This means more than 50 percent of the weighted ballots must vote in the affirmative. The election is land based and the costs for GSA startup and administration and preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan as well as initial implementation will be shared equally by all acreage within the North Fork Kings GSA. It is anticipated that the assessment rate will be set by the Board at their January 10 Board meeting. The maximum that can be set is $10 per acre, but the Board could decide on a lower rate.
Some of the costs in the proposed 5-year budget include GSA administration (staffing, insurance, outreach, office expenses), professional services (engineering, legal, grant writing, 218 election), member agency reimbursement, an enterprise fund for project development and groundwater monitoring, and a 10 percent contingency fund.
If the North Fork Kings GSA is unable to fund its activities and comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the law allows the State to intervene. Intervention means a State version of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan that may be limited to only demand-side solutions, like restrictions on groundwater pumping. It also means the State will impose its very severe SGMA fee structure on groundwater pumpers that is considerably higher than the anticipated rate for the North Fork Kings GSA. You can find the State’s 2018 adopted SGMA fees here.
|Jan. 10, 2018||Board Meeting – approve Engineer’s Report and set assessment rate|
|Jan/Feb 2018||Conduct public outreach and education|
|March 2018||Prepare and mail ballots|
|May 2018||Tabulate received ballots and certify election|