Finances

The Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is currently funded by contributions from member agencies. The 2017 Joint Power Agreement established that member agencies will fund the GSA through June 2019, at which point it is anticipated that the GSAs will become self-funded.

Sonoma Valley GSA Member Agency Contributions

Funding Source Fiscal Year 2017-18 Fiscal Year 2018-19
County of Sonoma $117,233 $117,233
North Bay Water District $20,000 $20,000
Sonoma Resource Conservation District $20,000 $20,000
Valley of the Moon Water District $97,767 $97,767
City of Sonoma $97,767 $97,767
Sonoma County Water Agency $117,233 $117,233
Total Intergovernmental Revenues $470,000 $470,000

Budget

The GSA Board of Directors must adopt its fiscal year budget 60 days before the end of the preceding fiscal year. Since the fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, the Board must adopt the next year’s budget by May 1 of each year. The GSA maintains strict accountability of all funds and reports all receipts and disbursements on a quarterly basis. A certified public accountant audits the GSA annually.

The GSA currently has an annual budget of about $470,000. For fiscal year 2017-2018, approximately 22% of the budget is dedicated to developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The proportion of the budget dedicated to GSP development is expected to increase in future years, as the GSA spends more time on developing the plan and less time on formational documents, like bylaws and a charter. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, nearly 40% of the budget is dedicated to the GSP.

Rate and Fee Study

As described above, the GSA is currently funded by its member agencies. However, the GSA will soon need its own funding source. The GSA has commissioned a study of potential rates and fees that could be established to finance GSA activities in a fair, equitable and legal way. To learn more about the rate and fee study and why it is needed, read these Rate and Fee Study Frequently Asked Questions.

Background research for the Rate and Fee Study began in Fall 2017. The GSA hosted a community workshop in March to gather feedback, ideas and comments on potential funding mechanisms from the 80 community members who attended.

There is little precedent for the GSA to base its financing on, as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is so new. The types of fees and rates allowed by State law are governed by California Propositions 26 and 218. Over the past several months, many different funding options have been considered. Some are simple, while others are complex. Options studied include the following:

  • A flat fee or tax charged to the landowner of each parcel of land in the basin
  • A fee or tax charged to landowners for each acre of land they own
  • A fee or tax charged to landowners based on the type of land they own and the way they use their land (farming, grazing, wineries, etcetera)
  • A fee or tax charged to a well owner for each gallon of water pumped from the aquifer
  • Continuing contributions of funds by GSA member agencies
  • A combination of different fee options

At its June meeting, the Sonoma Valley GSA Board asked member agency staff to further explore the idea of funding Phase 1 of the GSA using ongoing member agency contributions. Staff has asked Raftelis Financial Consultants to halt its work in this basin until the Board has determined whether member agency contributions are a viable option.

The Rate and Fee Study is ongoing. For the most recent information on options under consideration, review materials from the most recent Board Meeting. The GSA is expected to implement a fee within the next year in order to meet state requirements under SGMA. If the GSA fails to create a GSP, the basin’s groundwater will be managed by the State without local input or control.