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City Forms Blue Ribbon Commission

With its sewer project approaching critical dead- lines, the Morro Bay City Manager has formed a new committee to give the project a third set of eyes.

City Manager, Scott Collins, announced that he has formed a “Blue Ribbon Commission to evaluate the costs and potential rate increases associated with the Water Reclamation Facility or WRF. The Commission will be charged with providing an independent review and rec- ommendation to the various advisory committees and City Council.”

The project, now nearly a generation in the planning, has come under great criticism by at least two citizen groups who have sworn to fight approval of a needed Proposition 218 vote and thus halt the $150-$167 mil- lion project. That critical Prop. 218 vote is expected in the coming months, once the City has gotten bids and has a better understanding of the overall costs. Those costs will be used to set future rates to pay for the proj- ect, which will have to be approved by those who must pay for it.

“As most residents and business owners are concerned about the financial impacts of the project,” Collins said, “I am delighted we have a great group of individuals with exceptional finance and business experience to provide an independent review of costs and potential rate increases for the WRF project.”

The Blue Ribbon Commission’s work will be in addition to advisory committees and City Council’s reviews and actions.

The City is awaiting bids from two companies, using a “design-build” method of delivery. That method has the same company both design and build the plant, a method that should speed up the project and cut the costs of putting together bid packages for the separate tasks of design and construction.

Discussions of costs and rates will take place at the advisory committees and City Council, most likely in May through July, Collins said.

The Blue Ribbon Committee consists of John Martin, a member of the Citizens’ Oversight/Finance Advisory Committee, who is a certified public finance officer who spent 23-years in public sector management, including 8 years as general manager of a water district; Barbara Spagnola, a member of the Citizens’ Oversight/Finance Advisory Committee and the WRF Citizen Advisory Committee, with over 25 years experience in business management, contract negotiations and budgeting; Homer Alexander, a former member of the Measure Q Oversight Committee and a retired small business owner; and, Joan Solu, former chairwoman of the Morro Bay Tourism Business Improvement District Board, who has worked in the hotel industry since 1989, and has owned and operated several motels in Morro Bay, most recently the Embarcadero Inn, which she and husband John recently sold.

To learn more about the sewer project, see: morrobaywrf.com.

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