Group Fighting Power Rate Hike Notifies City of Petition Drive

A residents' committee lead by Councilwoman Ann-Marie Villicana has notified the city that it will collect signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot to repeal an 11% electric rate increase, the city clerk said Tuesday.

The initiative is one of four measures that the Committee for Affordable Government wants to put before voters in an effort downsize city government and pay off the city-owned power company's $156-million debt.

The group submitted the language of the ballot measures for review by the city attorney. Once the language is approved the committee can begin collecting the signatures of voters.

Four months ago, the City Council approved a utility rate hike to help pay off the debt by 2002, when the local market will be opened to competitors and residents will be able to buy electricity from anyone.

But Villicana and John Flowers, a Rose Bowl Operating Co. board member, say the debt should be reduced by cuts in City Hall, which gets a slice of utility profits.

In addition to a repeal of the utility rate hike, the group submitted proposed measures to amend the city charter to allow the sale of the city utility; prohibit the annual transfer of $5 million from the city utility to City Hall until the debt is paid; and require a 5% annual cut in city expenditures.

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