Former Garden Grove Councilman Bob Dinsen announced recently he has collected enough signatures for city officials to enact a proposed ordinance without having to go through a citywide vote on the November ballot.
He will ask the council to do just that Tuesday when he presents it with about 7,000 signatures in support of the ordinance that would prohibit the city from using administrative charges from utility bills for other general city purposes.
Dinsen said he didn’t plan on collecting that many signatures. He believes that state law only requires signatures from 5% of city voters in the 1996 gubernatorial election to place an initiative on the ballot. But city officials maintain Dinsen needs signatures from 10% of all registered Garden Grove voters. And instead of fighting the issue in court, Dinsen decided to focus on collecting signatures.
“The latter number caused us to work more but it also had us contact more Garden Grove voters,” Dinsen said. “So I don’t know whether to fault [the city’s] decision or to thank [it].”
Over the past five months Dinsen and 135 Garden Grove residents circulated 901 petition forms to collect the signatures.
If 5,578 of the signatures are valid, the council could adopt the ordinance, according to city and county officials, saving the city about $50,000 for a November vote. However, the city will still have to spend $14,000 to have the signatures validated and will take about 30 days for the Orange County Registrar’s office to process.
Whether the council will enact the ordinance is another question. Councilman Mark Leyes said city attorneys would have to scrutinize the proposal before he would approve it.
“Essentially we’re already doing what he’s asking for,” Leyes said. “Fees are being spent on the services they’re being collected for. But I probably think [the proposal] goes a little beyond that.”
At the heart of the issue is administrative charges. Bills for local services, such as water and sewer, include a separate, estimated charge for indirect costs of general city managers, engineers, attorneys and their working needs, such as rent, computers and office supplies.
If the city stopped collecting the costs of administrative services from residents, “then we would have to spin off [the local services] and they’d have to hire their own attorneys, managers and engineers . . . and in doing that we’d see the cost go up. And I’m not willing to do that, even if Bob is.”
Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.