Taxpayers force Fresno rate hike onto ballot


By John Hrabe |

A group of taxpayers battling the City of Fresno has won a critical legal victory in their fight to get a referendum of the city’s water rate increases on the November ballot.

On April 28, Superior Court Judge M. Bruce Smith reaffirmed his preliminary ruling granting the “Citizens of Lower Water Bills — Yes on Measure W” the right to move forward with their referendum on the city’s controversial water rate hikes. The ruling clears the final pre-election hurdle for the group of taxpayers, although it could still be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Last year, the City of Fresno denied the taxpayers a title and summary for their petition, and then sued the taxpayers to prevent their initiative from being circulated. The move appeared to be a direct violation of the California Constitution. Section 3 of Article 13C states that “the initiative power shall not be prohibited or otherwise limited in matters of reducing or repealing any local tax, assessment, fee or charge.”

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