Taxpayers Group Starts New Initiative to force Special Election on Sewer Rates

Will the Third Time be the Charm to give the people of Dixon to vote on Raising Sewer Fees to fund a $30 million waste water treatment plant using obsolete hundred-year-old technology?

While the City of Dixon politicians and bureaucrats rush to encumber the rate-payers with that expenditure before such a vote can be held, the taxpayers’ group is continuing it determined effort to get the issue on the ballot in time to force a change in direction.

Wednesday, Gary Riddle – the President of the Dixon Chapter of the Solano County Taxpayers Assn.(DC-SCTA) delivered to the City of Dixon a notice of intent to circulate an initiative to hold a special election for the citizens to vote to reverse the sewer rate increase.

Although the previous initiative had the required number of valid signatures to qualify for a special election, the City Council instead voted to place the measure on the November 2016 general election ballot. That delay tactic by the Council has forced the proponents to start another initiative process to allow for a timely vote.

The attorney who reviewed that initiative petitions did not notice it did not include a request for a special election – allowing the City Council to put off a vote until the next General Election in November 2016.

That delay was just one in a long trail of similar delaying stunts. Previously, the taxpayers gathered sufficient signatures for a Referendum – over 1500 in only 28 days – the City Attorney and City Clerk declared the petitions were not valid because the signature pages did not have the text of the entire ordinance stapled to them.

The taxpayers then went the route of an initiative, and again gathered more than sufficient signatures. The County Registrar of voters using the permitted sampling method (in this case a sampling of 500 out of over 1,700 signatures) found the initiative would qualify. But in an effort to delay an election until after the City Council committed funds and signed contracts, those officials decided to do a “full count” of all signatures. That caused a delay of almost two weeks in certifying the petition, and an additional delay of six weeks in getting in before the council.

The city pushed forward again yesterday – Thursday February 26 – with a “Mandatory Meeting” of potential bidders on the controversial project.

Not surprisingly, Stantec – the consultants doing the design work – and the city staff which hide for over two years the In-Pipe bioaugmentation technology from the citizens Waste Water Committee and the City Council has not included that system in the plans. The City Engineer, Joe Leach, claims they are waiting until UC Davis agrees to be a “neutral” party to analyze the data from a six month test project proposed by In-Pipe over a year ago.

Unsubstantiated rumors abound that few bidders will participate, believing the process is rigged to favor Stantec, making it foolish for other bidders to spend tens of thousands on preparing a bid with no chance of winning.

The key component of the rate increase is the $30 million cost for an Activated Sludge project. The DC-SCTA has disputed the cost effectiveness of this project as apposed to other modern technologies.

With a new Initiative submitted – which includes a request for a Special Election – the City Attorney has two weeks to complete the required title and summary for the initiative. The signature gathering effort will begin as soon as this action is completed. As with the previous initiative, volunteers will be needed to assist with the collection of signatures. You may contact the DC-SCTA regarding questions, comments or support for the initiative drive at dixonchapter@yahoo.com.

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