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Shortage of Tax Funds Leads to Shortage of Water for Region

The ebb and flow of the economy in the region has focused on the housing price decline and the gasoline price incline.

Now, two other shortages are popping up: water and tax money.

Water has always been a commodity in greater demand than the quantity available.

Water officials are now predicting water shortages in 2008 because of a lower than predicted snow pack; the lowest in two decades.

Water officials are predicting shortages if the water level does not improve.

This year appears safe but the water use needed to support the state’s growth continues to increase and new water sources are hard to find.

One concept that is not new but normally too expensive to use is desalinated water.

It is used in other countries such as Saudi Arabia and by our Navy ships, so it is not new, it just is not cheap.

Poseidon Resources Corp. has a contract to provide guaranteed water for the city of Carlsbad with a privately financed desalinization plant.

So why is it not moving forward?

Because the California Coastal Commission is dragging its feet.

The commission, it seems, is not fond of private water companies owning water facilities in their jurisdiction.

Well, not too many cities in California have $300 million laying around in the general fund waiting for something to spend it on.

Apparently, if the commission approves the plant guaranteeing Carlsbad 100 percent of its drinking water, that might signal other cities to do the same and, thereby, making water more available.

Do you see this as an oxymoronic situation?

Poseidon also has a contract to build a plant in Huntington Beach.

Every year when we read about low levels and overuse due to growth, why does logic not work?

If companies like Poseidon can produce cost efficient drinking water, why can’t the governor and Legislature make it easier by ordering the commission to listen to reason?

The other shortage is transportation tax money.

There is no one that will say that they are not taxed enough.

But the half-cent sales tax issue, TransNet, is running short of funds due to the doubling and tripling of construction costs.

North County residents pay a 7.75-cent tax for every dollar they spend.

This month, Vista will begin collecting 8.25 cents.

During the next 40 years, the TransNet tax will collect $14 billion.

With the ever-increasing construction costs, the price of providing for the region’s needs will probably be more than the amount collected to provide for the four decades of need.

So let’s see, we have a partial fix for the water shortage with desalinated water, and we just voted in a new 40-year tax last November in the county, so what seems to be the problem?

Government foot-dragging is one answer.

If any reader has a reasonable solution please send me the information and I will share it with the readers.

In other North County news:

– The Oceanside City Council has set aside $100,000 to help support a farmers market on Thursday evenings. In addition to fruits and vegetables, the council’s goal is to help their Main Street group jump-start the program which is part of its downtown revitalization. When the ribbon is cut, it will be the first evening market in the county. The hope is it will help thousands of citizens and visitors rediscover Oceanside downtown. In addition to fresh produce, it will have 130 booths and retailers.

– Tourism officials in Carlsbad are forking over $95,000 to two consulting firms to study the city’s tourism population. The current hotels pay more than $10 million in Transient Occupancy Tax and with eight to 10 new hotels in the planning stages or under construction.

The industry self-taxed itself a $l per occupied room night within the Business Improvement District a year ago to build a marketing fund to draw more visitors. A seven-person board that administers the funds contracted the study. The BID has collected $750,000 the first year and is looking toward two new studies to help plan where the money should be spent. Two agencies currently receive the lion’s share of the funding to market the city. The Carlsbad Convention and Visitors Bureau and the North County Convention and Visitors Bureau have prepared marketing plans to leverage their skills and receive more funding.

– While there is a slowdown in the price appreciation of the residential real estate these days that does not mean that developers are not selling houses. Carlsbad-based Barratt American sold 397 homes in 2006 for total revenue of $251 million. That makes the average house cost $633,000. Doesn’t look like the market is dead to me.


Ted Owen is president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

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