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Burbank calls for a special election, brings forward 3 ballot measures

Burbank calls for a special election, brings forward 3 ballot measures
Burbank votes will have three ballot measures before them during the June 5 special municipal election. (File Photo)

Burbank is leaving it up to voters this summer to decide whether three amendments should be made to the city charter.

The City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to call a special municipal election on June 5, in which voters will weigh in on three ballot measures — two of which address election procedures for the city and Burbank Unified School District and another that aims to rectify a court ruling regarding the city's electric fund transfers.

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Arguments in favor or against the ballot measures must be submitted to the city clerk's office by Feb. 20 and must be no longer than 300 words. The deadline for rebuttal arguments, which can be up to 250 words, is March 2.

One of the ballot measures will deal with the transfer of electric sales and will ask voters if the city should continue its past practice of transferring no more than 7% of Burbank Water and Power's gross annual sales of electricity to the city's General Fund each year.

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The practice, which has been in place since 1958, came under fire when Burbank resident Christopher Spencer sued the city, alleging that the transfer was in violation of Proposition 26, a state law approved by voters in 2010 that's designed to prevent hidden taxes.

In September, a judge ruled in favor of Spencer and suggested the city amend its charter to address the issue.

The proposed charter amendment will state that the city has been transferring these funds since 1958, and they are used to maintain Burbank's lighting infrastructure.

The next ballot measure will ask Burbank voters if the city should align its municipal election with the state general election to meet requirements in state SB 415, recent legislation put in place to increase voter turnout.

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The proposed change to the charter would reschedule Burbank's election to occur during even-numbered years and would eliminate primary elections, with the next municipal election held during the November 2020 state general election.

Should voters approve this ballot measure, it would extend the terms for each current council member, City Clerk Zizette Mullins and City Treasurer Debbie Kukta one time by a year and eight months.

Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said she liked having primary elections in Burbank, but added that the time between the state primary, which was recently moved to March, and the general election is too long for local candidates to campaign.

The final ballot measure deals with elections for Burbank Unified and will ask voters if school board elections should be held on even-numbered years and if its elections should follow state election procedures instead of the city's current procedures.

The proposed charter amendment would not remove Burbank Unified from the city charter but would allow the school district to conduct and regulate its own elections.

Twitter: @acocarpio

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