Proposed ballot measure would grant public right to vote on Apple Valley debt (December 21, 2015)

AVRWC - Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company

Initiative would appear on November 2016 ballot

Apple Valley, CA — Apple Valley residents Chuck and Pat Hanson are dead set against the Town’s action to conduct a hostile takeover of the local water utility. Regulars at Town Council meetings, the Hansons pointed to the hundreds of millions of dollars in debt the Town could potentially take on, and regularly promoted the idea that the Town’s residents should be able to vote directly on this decision.

When they had the chance to be the proponents of a ballot measure to give the public a right to vote on that debt, they jumped at the chance.

The Town has talked about the possibility of incurring close to $200 million in debt to acquire Ranchos, and the voters should be given a right to vote on such a massive decision, said Pat Hanson.

The ballot initiative, referred to informally as the Right to Vote on Debt Act, submitted to the Town Clerk today, seeks to amend the Apple Valley municipal code to add a requirement that voters must affirmatively approve by majority vote any public debt over $10 million that provides funds for the acquisition, construction, improving, or financing of an enterprise, secured by revenues derived from the operation of the enterprise.

Unlike general obligation bonds, certain types of debt (such as certificates of participation bonds) that the Town would likely use to fund the acquisition of AV Ranchos, currently do not require a vote of the public.

The initiative effort is being backed by Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company, which has been under assault of hostile takeover by the town.

This is a common sense proposal that merely provides the public a direct voice in a decision that will have major impacts for the future of Apple Valley, said Tony Penna, General Manager of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company. Many of our supporters have expressed concerns over the ultimate cost of eminent domain, and this initiative adds an important layer of accountability and transparency to the mountains of debt being proposed by the Town.

A similar, statewide ballot initiative has qualified for the November 2016 ballot that would also require state revenue bonds over $2 billion to be approved by a majority vote. Earlier this year, the President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association compared the Town’s efforts to acquire Apple Valley Ranchos to the unpopular High Speed Rail Project.

Whichever side you stand on the issue of eminent domain acquisition of Ranchos, this initiative gives voters the right to weigh in on how much the Town is allowed to spend on the measure, said Chuck Hanson.