Election: Perris voters weigh in on water, sewer utility sales

Election: Perris voters weigh in on water, sewer utility sales

Perris voters went to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, to decide twin ballot measures seeking the community’s approval to sell city-owned water and sewer systems and if early results hold, approval or failure for one will be by a slim margin.

Measure G, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage, would give Perris the green light to seek buyers for a sewer system that serves 2,366 homes and businesses in the downtown area.

Yes votes were short of a winning margin in the first results released by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

City officials already have found a buyer for the city’s two water systems, which serve 3,723 customers in downtown and the Villages of Avalon along Ramona Expressway. A simple majority vote in favor of Measure H would sanction the proposed $11.5 million sale to Liberty Utilities.

Measure H was well above the majority margin in the earliest results.

Officials say the utilities are losing money, piling up debt and siphoning cash from core municipal services, and they want to get out of the water and sewer business. As for the water sale, it would retire millions in debt and liabilities, officials said.

Perris spokesman Joe Vargo said about $1 million would be left over from the sale and used to improve city parks.

Raul Mark Yarbrough, a former city councilman who served 19 years, blamed the utilities’ problems on local politics and opposed the measures.