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Saturday, April 20, 2024

News in Brief: Davis City Council votes to place water rate initiative on June 2014 ballot

Davis City Council members unanimously voted on Feb. 11 to place an initiative on the June 2014 ballot that will ask voters to decide if they think the city’s water rates are fair and legal.

Water rates are scheduled to increase over the next five years to help pay for Davis’ $106 million share of the Woodland-Davis surface water project. The first of the rate increases became effective on May 1, 2013, and the most recent increase was Jan. 1.

Three options were presented to City Council at the Feb. 11 meeting by City Attorney, Harriet Steiner. They could refer the initiative to staff for analysis of impacts on the city, adopt the initiative without change, which would repeal the rate increases or put the initiative on the June 2014 ballot for voters to decide on.

Supporters of the surface water project urged City Council members to put the initiative on the ballot, seeing that as the most effective option.

“The most important thing is to move forward quickly. Delays will cost citizens millions of dollars,” said Jane Runquist, water project supporter.

Robb Davis, a candidate for City Council, said putting this on the ballot would help clear up a lot of confusion surrounding the water rates issue.

“You have to put this on the ballot, some members of the community are trying to roll back what was a decision of the whole community,” Davis said.

Nancy Price, a member of the group that wrote the initiative said putting it on the June ballot is the most most efficient option because it goes to the ratepayers immediately.

Price added that only those who pay water bills were allowed to vote on Measure 1 in March 2013; renters did not get to vote.

Putting the initiative on the June ballot allows for a citywide vote and renters, many of whom are students, will have a voice in whether or not they approve the rates. Under the new rates renters are being billed directly for the water rates, when before it was typically not a separate charge.

“Students who live in Davis have a right to vote on the rates. The rate structure still needs to be examined for fairness and affordability,” Price said. “If this passes the city has the opportunity to revisit the rate structure.”


— Paayal Zaveri



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