On August 27, a lawsuit was filed against the City of Riverside by ‘Riversiders Against Increased Taxes’ (RAIT). The lawsuit claims that the sole measure for November 2, Measure C, is unlawful and should not be on the ballot.
Measure C, formally called the “City of Riverside Services Protection Measure,” would continue to allow the city to transfer excess electric rates income to the City of Riverside General Fund.
According to the city’s website, the general fund annually receives around $40 Million from electric rates. This means the city is taking in more money from the electric public utility than needed to sustain itself and then transferring those funds to the general fund.
In a September 13th press release by RAIT and their lawyer, they say that “The ballot measure is in response to a complaint (Parada vs. City of Riverside) brought before the Riverside Superior Court in 2018 that alleged the city had been illegally charging its electric customers more than the cost of service in violation of the California Constitution.”
In November of 2020, a judge ruled against the city in that case. As a result, the city agreed to issue $24 Million in credits on customers’ future bills. They then proposed that Measure C be brought to a citywide vote.
The focus of the lawsuit brought by RAIT claims that because the “tax proposed” is for the general fund and not for a specific governmental purpose. They say Measure C must be voted on during a general election. RAIT uses California Prop 218 of 1996 as a reference point and the council’s change from odd to even-year elections in 2019. The lawsuit says the city can’t have it on the ballot till the next General Election in Spring of 2024.
They also point towards section 400.D of the city charter. The where it says the city can “call a special election to be held on November 2, 2021.” The direct reference is to a potential November special election if a city council member candidate from Wards 2, 4, and 6 were unable to receive a majority of votes. There is no direct reference to city ordinances or measures in section 400.