Glendale mulls April ballot issues

Several measures, including one that could make the city treasurer an appointed rather than elected position, have moved closer to being placed on an upcoming ballot.

On Tuesday, Glendale City Council members directed the city attorney to bring back specifics on the measures — one of which would also deflate the debate surrounding an annual electricity revenue transfer — before they approve putting them before voters.

The measure deciding the fate of the city treasurer position could be part of the April municipal election, while others may take more time to get on a ballot.

That means that as voters choose a new treasurer next year, they may also be choosing whether to keep the position elected, or change it to an appointment made by the city manager, like other department heads. City Treasurer Ron Borucki's term ends in April. In an interview Wednesday he said he is leaning toward not running for reelection.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian, who has been vocal in opposing putting the change to voters, said the measure was designed to keep him out of contention for the job. Manoukian, who ran unsuccessfully for treasurer in the past, said he still hasn't decided if he's going to run next year, even though he has two years left on his council term.

Of the 482 cities in the state, 143, including neighboring Burbank, elect their treasurers, according to a city report.

“It's unfortunate that taxpayers' funds are being used for personal vendettas,” Manoukian said.

Putting the measure on the April ballot could cost an estimated $26,000 to $47,000, according to a city report.

Councilman Dave Weaver first floated the idea several months ago and it has been backed by Mayor Frank Quintero and Councilwoman Laura Friedman.

Weaver said he wants the position to be appointed because the city treasurer invests hundreds of millions of dollars and therefore is not a role that should be left to politics.

“I'm not willing to risk somebody winning on a personality contest,” he said.

It's a question that's been put to voters before — in 1943, 1972 and 1979 — but never has it been on the ballot at the same time the seat is up for election.

In addition, the City Council also directed the city treasurer to look into drafting a measure that would ask voters to change the city charter's instructions about how money is transferred from Glendale Water & Power to the General Fund, which pays for police, parks and other public services.

Opponents of the transfer, which totaled about $21 million this year, have called it a backdoor tax.

The charter gives the City Council the right to approve a transfer of funds from the utility's electrical side. It also includes an array of funds with different functions that have confused the situation, officials said.

If approved by voters, the measure would streamline utility funds, taking the wind out of critics who say the maximum 25% transfer should be limited to surplus funds, rather than be applied to all operating revenues, as officials contend.

“These are areas that need to be cleaned up,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.

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