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The Community Services District board split last week on the question of whether to offer a local “cash for grass” program and approved it on a 3-2 vote.

The CSD’s program, partnered with the Regional Water Authority, will offer as much as $500 to homeowners who replace turf with drought-tolerant landscaping. Opponents of the CSD plan said the state has a better offer – with less work for the CSD.

CSD will publicize the particulars of its program in the coming days.

In August, the Regional Water Authority awarded CSD $30,590 for the program, one of a dozen water agencies to receive funds. (The largest incentive, $194,189, went to Roseville.)  In return, the CSD is required to contribute 25 percent, or $7,647, in the form of surveys with program participants.

The paperwork sent to CSD by the Regional Water Authority included a 23-page agreement.

General Manager Darlene Gillum listed these program requirements:

  • The rebate is limited to $500 per home and up to $1,500 per commercial account.
  • The rebates apply only to irrigation system upgrades recommended in the water survey.
  • CSD must inspect work before the grant is allowed.
  • A homeowner must go through the Rancho Murieta Association landscape review process.

Jerry Pasek, the board president, asked why the CSD would be part of this when the state program already in place awards as much as $2,000 for residential work instead of $500.  “Why should we even bother with this, since the other one’s available...?” he asked.

Gillum said a homeowner can do both – but can’t get more than a total of $2,000 from the two.

Pasek asked, “Why should we get in the middle of all this, since the state rebate is available and they can get all the money they’re eligible for....”

“Because we’re trying to do our part with water savings,” Gillum said.

“Again,” Pasek said, “encourage them to go through the state and they’ll get it anyway. I just don’t see any advantage to piling this on as a second-tier item. That’s all I’m saying. ... It’s a bureaucratic process that gains nothing.”

Director Betty Ferraro said she has gotten calls from Murietans who want to know when CSD would offer such a program.  (The state program was announced in August.)

Director Mike Martel said he thinks residents should be made aware of both programs. Director Mark Pecotich saw it as an opportunity to partner with the RMA on the process and use the CSD’s website to walk Murietans through the process.

From the audience, Les Clark, who recently stepped up as a candidate for an unexpired board term, asked whether the board was considering the true overhead costs.  He said the state program was simpler and covered removing turf and, potentially, drip irrigation.

He questioned the local program’s documentation requirements, the need for CSD to determine that contractors are properly licensed, and the filing of regular reports on program participants until 2025.

Gillum replied that it won’t be more than 60 customer accounts, which can be managed.

Pasek voted no, calling it “a bureaucratic nightmare.” He was joined by new Director Morrison Graf. They were outvoted by Pecotich, Ferraro and Martel.

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