Proposition 218 requires cities to have a vote of potentially affected residents when a rate hike is proposed.
In the case of Rialto’s proposed water rate hikes, a large number of ballots came into the city within the last 30 minutes of the deadline on June 12, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott said Friday.
That prompted the City Council to defer a vote on the final procedure to institute a series of rate hikes that would mean a 114.5-percent increase in water and wastewater
rates by 2016.
The rate hikes are part of a plan to outsource the management of Rialto’s water and wastewater systems to American Water.
The matter will be taken up again at a City Council meeting on June 26.
While the vote tally could end the deal, that result is unlikely, election observers say, as more than half of the Rialto property owners and renters who are ratepayers – plus one – would have filed a protest.
But there’s another issue looming that could derail the water agreement and rate hikes.
On May 12, members of the Utility Workers of America turned in petitions with more than 6,400 signatures seeking to put the council’s water rate decisions to a vote, which could be held in November or at another time selected by the council.
Only about 3,800 signatures are needed to take the council’s action to voters.
The city hired the county’s elections office to validate the signatures.
Scott said he has not heard the result, but that too would come out on the council meeting of June 26.
Not only do signatures need to be valid, but the process to collect the signatures needs to be valid, Scott said.
Joe Baca Jr., who was the lone dissenter in the rate hike vote, said most Rialto residents understand that rates need to increase to pay for water system upgrades, just not so rapidly.
Social Media Marketing for all your needs. Specializing in Non-Profit, Community Groups and Public Safety Organizations. Visit us at www.davidsinlandempiremarketing.com