California High Court Backs Public Agencies in Water Fee Battle

Aug. 3, 2020, 7:14 PM

California’s municipal water rates and other local utility charges aren’t subject to voter approval because the rates fall within the state constitution’s exemption for tax levies, a unanimous state Supreme Court held.

The Monday ruling, which sides with public agencies, is the latest chapter in the argument over whether Proposition 218 abridges voters’ rights to challenge local resolutions by referendum. The case involves a voter challenging a water rate hike the Northern California mountain town of Dunsmuir approved to replace aging, leaky water mains and a 105-year-old water tank.

Dunsmuir’s water rates, which the city council ...

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