Lake County seeking tax increase in fight against invasive mussels

  • 9/01/2012: B1:

    PC: Invasive quagga mussels cling to a rope lowered into an infested southern California lake.

Lake County supervisors are again asking voters to help them keep invasive, ecology-altering mussels out of Clear Lake.

"It's ultimately up to voters," said Supervisor Tony Farrington.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved placing a half-percent sales tax increase on the June ballot.

The "Healthy Lake Sales Tax" would boost funding for the county's battle against quagga and zebra mussels. It also would fund clean water and wetlands projects and the ongoing battle to control the chronic overgrowth of aquatic plants in the lake.

A similar ballot measure was narrowly defeated in 2012, but its proponents had just two months to campaign for the measure, Farrington said. He's hoping the extra two months this time around will bring success.

The ballot measure would increase the sales tax in the unincorporated county from 7.5 percent to 8 percent, he said. It would raise an estimated $2.4 million annually for the water-related projects.

The county currently spends between $300,000 and $500,000 a year on mussel prevention and weed control, much of it from one-time funding.

"We can't continue to be shelling out money every year without revenue coming in," said Supervisor Rob Brown.

A large chunk -#8212; $1 million -#8212; of the new tax dollars would go toward keeping tiny but potentially devastating quagga and zebra mussels out of Clear Lake.

The Eastern European invaders have been steadily making their way across the country since being introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s.

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