A group of residents served recall notices on Councilmen A.B. (Buck) Catlin and Don Bankhead on Tuesday night in an attempt to block approval of a 2% utility tax.
The tax on water, electricity, telephone, natural gas and cable television bills received preliminary approval by a 3-1 vote on June 15. A final vote was expected late Tuesday night.
Snow Hume, an organizer of the recall campaign, said his group’s goal is to put the utility tax on the ballot.
“Either councilman who votes to put the utility tax up for referendum will not be recalled,” Hume said of Catlin and Bankhead.
Mayor Molly McClanahan, who also voted for the tax in June, was not targeted for recall.
“We did not want to seem anti-feminist,” Hume said. “We felt that going after her would look ugly.” He would not elaborate.
Tuesday’s meeting was attended by more than 400 vocal opponents of the tax.
Bankhead said before the meeting that he will not back down from his support for the tax, intended to help balance the city’s budget. The tax is expected to raise $1.6 million this year and cost the average household about $4.40 a month, according to city staff.
“That’s what we get elected for: to make decisions like this,” Bankhead said.
Council members Chris Norby and Julie Sa opposed the tax. Sa was absent from the June meeting.
The tax would increase to 3% in October, 1994.
The recall attempt is the city’s first since 1965, according to City Clerk Anne M. York.
To hold a recall election, the organizers must gather signatures from 15% of the city’s 55,527 registered voters. A special election would cost the city between $60,000 and $70,000, York said, quoting estimates from the county.
About 700 people attended the June meeting, held at a Fullerton College theater. Opponents of the tax outnumbered supporters by about 2 to 1.
The Chamber of Commerce led the fight against the tax, arguing that the city wastes money and could make further cuts.
City Manager James L. Armstrong has told the council that the city is losing money to the state that it cannot replace. Without a tax, Armstrong said, the city would have to cut deeply into police and fire service.
Armstrong oversaw a 5% cut in general spending from the 1992-93 budget, he said. The city’s general fund budget for 1993-94 is $44.9 million.