UKIAH, 5/13/2017 — The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has agreed not to appeal a judge’s ruling to dismiss its lawsuit against the City of Ukiah, which sought to invalidate Measure Y. The measure, which passed with a slim majority in November, increases city sales tax by half a percent. An advisory measure, which also passed, asked voters if they wanted the revenue to be used to fix city streets. Here’s a press release with details from the City of Ukiah:
Ukiah, CA. May 12, 2017. – The City of Ukiah has prevailed in the lawsuit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association (HJTA), which sought to invalidate Measure Y, the recently passed general sales tax measure that will provide funding for essential services including much-needed street repairs through a half-percent sales tax increase. On May 1, 2017, the superior court granted the City’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. HJTA has agreed not to appeal that ruling, which brings to a close the legal challenge to the adoption of the tax by City voters.
The tax went into effect on April 1, 2017. Revenue from the tax is collected by the State Board of Equalization and then transferred to the City, with the first payment expected in June.
City Manager Sage Sangiacomo stated, “It’s fortunate that this challenge to the will of the City’s voters was resolved quickly and will not delay the City’s use of these tax revenues to address the City infrastructure needs.”
To find out more information about the current condition of Ukiah’s streets and the prioritization of projects, please see www.cityofukiah.com/streets.
HJTA, based in Sacramento and Los Angeles, claimed that the advisory Measure Z on the same ballot, which asked the voters whether the revenue from Measure Y should be used to repair and maintain City streets, converted the measure from a general to a special tax. Under Proposition 218, a general tax can pass by a simple majority vote. A special tax imposed for a specific purpose requires 2/3 or more voters in the election to vote in favor. Measure Y passed by a majority vote.
According to City Attorney David Rapport, this argument was rejected by a court of appeal in a case challenging a locally approved county tax in 1998, relying on Proposition 62 and Article XIII in the State Constitution, which, like Proposition 218, requires a majority vote for a general tax and a 2/3 vote for a special tax. In that case, the court ruled that advisory measures, as the name suggests, are advisory, not binding on the county. Because Measure Z was advisory only, Rapport says that the City Council’s intent to use the revenues from Measure Y to repair City streets does not convert it from a general tax to a special tax.
The City moved to dismiss the action, because state law requires a specific type of legal action, called a reverse validation action, to challenge a locally adopted transaction and use tax. The reverse validation action was required to be filed within 60 days of the November 8, 2016, election, when the tax measure was approved. Additional procedures were required to be completed within 60 days of filing the complaint. HJTA did not file a reverse validation action and did not complete the additional procedures within 60 days of filing its complaint.