The Dixon City Council voted at the regular meeting on Tuesday February 11 to double sewer fees, despite receiving 2101 verified protests – about 700 protests short of the number needed to automatically stop the rate increase.
The tone of the meeting was set early during discussion of allowing rates to be set by Resolution instead of Ordinances. A resolution would go into effect immediately while an ordinance has to be read twice then only goes into effect 30 days after passage following the second reading. Using a Resolution would allow less time for citizens to prepare a referendum against a rate increase.
The last time this item had come forward, councilman Steve Bird was absent, and the resultant vote was a 2 to 2 tie – Councilman Jerry Castañon and Mayor Jack Batchelor vote for the fast track rate increase ordinance while Councilmen Dane Besneatte and Vice Mayor Thom Bogue voted against it
At the February 11 meeting Councilman Jerry Castañon seconded the motion which the Mayor was forced to make as no other Councilmember stepped forward. That enabled the action to succeed as Councilman Steve Bird again supported it while both Besneatte and Vice Mayor Thom Bogue again voted against it.
Despite a large number of protests collected by the Dixon Chapter of the Solano County Taxpayers Association – rather than citizens submitting them directly to the city – the council voted unanimously to close the “proposition 218 public notification and protest process” – despite being told the notification process was flawed and violation of the State Constitution by Ourania Riddle, the secretary of the Dixon chapter.
During Public Comments, Ourania Riddle – the President of the Solano County Taxpayers Association (SCTA),
told the council the City’s notification to the public of their right to protest violated the State Constitution because the City did not first prepare a list of affected property parcels, and some property owners and tenants were not notifieid.
Riddle state that rather than litigate, the taxpayers were attempting to educate the council and staff as to the error of their ways in not following constitutional mandates.
Former city manager Warren Salmons stated “proceed with this action” as he felt business would be restricted if improvements weren’t made. Salmons was the city manager when it was suggested that piping sewer effluent water south of town at a cost of $40 million was the appropriate solution. Tripled sewer rates to finance that flawed project were defeated by Measure L in November 2006.
For a more detailed report see the February 14, 2014 edition of Dixon’s Independent Voice.