BY DONNA WESTFALL
Sewer bill protest Dec 2, ’14
The City has stated that they expect the sewer rate increase to be on the City Council agenda this month or next.
Let’s assume that it gets approved by the majority of council members. What happens next? The City Clerk is responsible for mailing out a letter to each property owner and each tenant sewer customer. It covers approximately 3391 parcels. To stop the sewer rate increase, about 2,000 valid signatures are required.
Let’s go over the basics. OWNERS of properties are allowed to protest AND TENANTS are allowed to protest. But here’s the wrinkle regarding tenants. The signature on the protest has to be the person who’s name is on their sewer bill. It can’t be their boyfriend or girlfriend. It can’t be their daughter or son, in-law or out-law. It has to be the person who’s name is on the sewer bill. If the account is in the name of both husband and wife, either one can sign. Click on the “sewer bill” above to see an example.
In April 2014, the city provided the assessor parcel numbers of 3391 parcels which qualified under Prop 218. The number of signatures the city had to receive to stop the rate increase was 50% plus 1 or 1,697. Attorney Tim Bittle from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association advised us to get 20% more than required. That means 2,034 valid protests should be turned in.
We’ve had several go’s at this. Losing is not an option. The State has already agreed to eliminate $15 million in interest. The State did not make the loan modification contingent on raising sewer rates. The City has to decide to look elsewhere to run the sewer system and pay back the loan. When the City is ready to sit down and seriously look at other options, the people of the public will be ready to talk.
Until then, keep coming back for a continual stream of information on how to successfully stop more sewer rate increases.
Next article will go over the elements of a valid protest.