The city of Glendale will hire outside legal help to represent the city in a lawsuit filed last week seeking to force the city to stop transferring tens of millions of dollars from its utility to the General Fund for police, libraries and other general services.
The City Council discussed the lawsuit behind closed doors on Tuesday and after the evening council meeting announced that they plan to hire the Los Angeles law firm Colantuono & Levin.
The lawsuit, filed by a group called Glendale Coalition for Better Government, asserts that the long-standing money transfer is a “backdoor tax” since the council continued to move money from the utility at the same time it approved electric rate increases to pay for needed infrastructure improvements.
The Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury chided City Hall for the transfers last year.
But city officials called the grand jury’s conclusions misguided and refused to implement its recommendations. They also have repeatedly defended the money transfers.
City Atty. Mike Garcia said the city wanted to hire the outside firm because one of the partners, Michael Colantuono, is an expert in issues relating to utility transfers and two state propositions, Proposition 218 and Proposition 26, that have framed similar lawsuits in the past.
“Given the issues at play, we thought we’d bring in additional assistance,” Garcia said.
The city has yet to finalize a fee cap for the contract with Colantuono & Levin.