Ballot initiative withdrawn

The California Special District’s Association had forewarned the Chester Public Utility District board of directors in a news bulletin that a ballot measure titled, ‘Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2018” was expected to appear on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election, which was written to restrict the way districts could vote to raise fees and/or property taxes.

Chester General Manager Frank Motzkus told the board members June 19 that if the initiative were to pass, it would basically take away the district’s right to raise local taxes for critical district operations, including fire and ambulance service, along with preventing new assessments to fund water, sewer, trash, fire protection, parks and recreation, and other essential services.

According to Motzkus, the broadly written ballot measure (17-0050) restricts the ability of local communities and the State of California to fund services and infrastructure needs without obtaining a supermajority (two-thirds) approval of both the elected governing body and voters along with other prohibitions and changes to current law, such as amending Proposition 218 to require the impossible standard of predicting actual costs for service years into the future and other problematic requirements.

CSDA further predicted the proposed ballot initiative, largely funded by beverage companies, would amend the State Constitution in a manner that would lead to costly lawsuits at taxpayer expense.

A coalition of labor advocates joined with CSDA in opposition to the measure on behalf of local governments, with the association providing opposing remarks during the public comment portion of a joint hearing with the California State Legislature on June 13.

Fortunately for the district, the proposed initiative to put major restrictions on local agency revenue increases was withdrawn by the proponents on June 25, as stated in a newsletter released by CSDA.

However, the proponents of the proposed measure only agreed to withdraw their ballot initiative in a compromise deal  to amend AB 1838, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown on June 28.

The compromise measure prohibits the imposition of taxes or fees on non-alcoholic carbonated beverages through the year 2030.

Governor Brown expressed in a signing statement that the original ballot measure as written would have been “far reaching” and sections of the measure would have been an “abomination.”

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