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Qualified voters can participate in November’s ballot literature

A special November election will ask Riversiders if they want to allow the city to continue transferring revenues from electric utilities to its general fund, a question worth $40 million.

Before the 16th of this month, Riverside City Council members, individual Riverside voters or a bona fide group of voters have the opportunity to submit arguments to the city in favor of the General Fund Transfer (GFT) ballot measure. One submission would subsequently be published in ballot materials on election day.

Such was decided in Tuesday’s city council meeting, when the council members unanimously voted to begin publicizing and preparing for the November 2, 2021 election.

Donesia Gause-Aldana, Riverside city clerk, said it is the constituents’ right to submit an argument, although it is not a commonly known process. “It provides an excellent opportunity for participation on the issues and includes the public more greatly in the legislative process,” she said.

In an email yesterday, Gause-Aldana included how to write the argument either for or against the measure. “The written argument, is not to exceed 300 words in length, accompanied by the printed name(s) and signature(s) of the author(s) submitting it, or if submitted on behalf of an organization, the name of the organization, and the printed name and signature of at least one of its principal officers who is the author of the argument, for or against the City measure(s),” she wrote.

This final step before November comes after a robust process that began when the city was served a lawsuit in 2018. The case titled Parada versus the City of Riverside challenged the validity of charter-authorized transfers from the city’s electric fund to the general fund. It alleged the GFT is not a transfer but a tax.

The lawsuit sought to prevent the city from continuing the GFT, yet has now reached a conditional settlement.

Section C of the Conditional Settlement Agreement states, “The Paradas acknowledge that the City intends this Settlement Agreement to bind all potential future challengers to the General Fund Transfer and to preclude any future litigation of the General Fund Transfer or the City’s electric rate-setting practices that consider the General Transfer Fund to be a ‘reasonable cost’ of providing electric service . . . .” 

The settlement is conditioned on the city council’s placement of the measure on the November 2021 ballot to approve GFT practices as a general tax and voter approval. According to the agreement, if voters do not approve the ballot measure, the parties intend the litigation to resume.

To proceed within the terms of the court order, the city must obtain voter approval by election for what is officially named, The City of Riverside Services Protection Measure.

Riversiders can expect to hear and see more about November 2 and its election ballot in the coming weeks.