Court Rules In Favor of Amador Water Agency

A CaliforniaAppeals Court on Friday, ruled in favor of the Amador Water Agency.  The Court’s ruling has determined that a water agency’s resolution adopting new rates for its water service fees is not subject to referendum.  In their decision the Court wrote, “The California Constitution’s grant of referendum power excludes local legislative enactments providing for tax levies and appropriations for local governments’ usual and current expenses.”  In a suit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association against the Amador Water Agency, the court concluded that the term “tax levies” includes property-related fees, such as water service fees, and are not subject to referendum. After complying with the procedural requirements of Proposition 218, the Amador Water Agency adopted a resolution approving new water rates.  In the resolution, the Agency Board of Directors concluded that the rate changes were necessary to cover ongoing and increasing costs of providing water service, including Agency operations and maintenance costs.   Citizens submitted a referendum petition challenging the resolution.  The Agency’s clerk rejected the referendum petition and refused to place it on an election ballot on the grounds that the petition was confusing and the rate changes, while subject to challenge by initiative under Prop. 218 are not subject to referendum.  The Howard Jarvis group challenged the clerk’s actions.  The trial court concluded that the resolution was not subject to the referendum power and could only be challenged by initiative.  The Third District Court of Appeal also determined that the resolution was not subject to referendum, but on different grounds.

Written by KVGC Staff


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