Early vote sought on rates

By From page A10 | February 09, 2014

The following is an open letter to city leaders:

This Tuesday night, the Davis City Council will take up the newly qualified initiative. It probably will be on the late-night agenda, unfortunately, but we are glad that it will be heard on such short notice. Thank you, city staff and the City Council, for putting it on the agenda.

And thank you to County Elections Officer Freddie Oakley and her staff for validating and counting the signatures so quickly.

Finally, it looks like Davis voters might have the opportunity to vote on the increased water rates. This voter input has been our main goal since we successfully qualified the fall 2011 referendum, only to see the City Council repeal the rates rather than putting them to a vote.

The proponents understand that the City Council has a range of options for acting on the initiative, including sending it to the county for inclusion on the June 2014 local election ballot, or parking it to as late as June 2016.

Although some might think it would be problematic to have it on the same ballot as other political and tax measures, we believe that putting it to an immediate citywide vote is by far the best option for the city. It would give all of us an up or down vote rather than continuing the uncertainty any longer than necessary.

An early win for the city would put the rubber stamp of the voters on the rates, and would assist with obtaining the lowest financing costs for the construction bonds. If the city loses the political vote, it can immediately use the Proposition 218 process to come up with more acceptable rates, based on voter input.

This point-counterpoint process is what has made Davis such a great small city to live in, and it gives all of us a personal stake in city governance.

Thank you to all the hard-working volunteers and the local media who got the word out that the petitions were circulating.

We are hoping that the City Council will put this on the next ballot, June 2014, and that we can finally get a definitive vote as to the fairness and political acceptability these challenging rates. Although the hour will be late, we hope that the public will turn out to support putting this initiative on the June 2014 ballot.

Michael J. Harrington

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