The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has served suit (this week) on the City of Ukiah for using an illegal ballot scheme to persuade voters to approve a new sales tax.
The suit charges the city violated the state constitution when it placed on the ballot both measure Y, raising the sales tax, and a companion Measure Z, dedicating the new sales tax revenue to street maintenance.
Article XIII C, of the California Constitution requires special taxes – those designated for a specific purpose — to receive approval from two-thirds of voters, whereas general taxes – undesignated taxes going into the general fund for distribution in the normal budget process — require only majority approval. Special taxes include “any tax imposed for specific purposes which is placed into a general fund.”
HJTA charges that Measure Y, coupled with its companion Measure Z, together proposed a special tax subject to Article XIII C’s supermajority approval requirements. Measure Y, the tax component of this package, received 51.56% yes votes, more than a majority but much less than the necessary two-thirds approval.
“The city clearly intended to circumvent Proposition 13’s taxpayer protections,” stated HJTA President Jon Coupal. “HJTA’s goal in bringing this lawsuit is to curb dishonest election practices that victimize taxpayers.”
The lawsuit, filed in Mendocino County Superior Court and served on City Clerk Kristine Lawler, seeks declaratory relief invalidating the two measures for receiving less than the required two-thirds voter approval.