Sign up for email updates
News Archive

Sutter Creek Residents Defeat 41% Garbage Rate Increase

Sutter Creek residents and property owners stood up to a 41% garbage rate increase and convinced the City Council to limit the increase to 5.3%. Despite public concerns with the counting process and results, the Council agreed with their attorney that only 504 protests were valid and concluded that a majority did not protest (based on 1,174 total eligible properties). More

City of Sutter Creek Settles Prop 218 Garbage Suit

Krause, Kalfayan, Benink & Slavens, LLP announced in a press release that the City of Sutter Creek settled a lawsuit with residents Dorothy and Paul Pressnall. In the settlement, the City agreed to pay attorney fees and to follow Proposition 218 requirements on future garbage rate increases as the Pressnalls asked in their suit. More

Jackson Resident Sues City Over Garbage Rates

Jackson resident William Orescan filed a lawsuit against the City of Jackson alleging that the City has violated the Constitutional provisions of Proposition 218 by failing to allow the public the opportunity to protest garbage rate increases. More...

Success Stories

Read about local ratepayers who have successfully protested rate increases.

About Prop 218

Passed by voters in 1996, Proposition 218 amended the California Constitution to require cities, governments and special districts to allow affected property owners to protest any proposed new or increased property-related fees.

Garbage Rates - Sutter Creek

ACES Waste Services is the only garbage collection service in Amador County, with 9 service areas.

Sutter Creek's service area is controlled by the Sutter Creek City Council. The city has a franchise agreement giving ACES exclusive rights to the service area so that no other garbage company can compete with ACES in that area.

In exchange for the exclusive agreement, the Council has the responsibility to approve or reject rate increases proposed by ACES. Although the county follows Proposition 218, Sutter Creek has not followed Prop 218 in the past, so the City Council has had the last say in garbage rate increases. Unfortunately, council members do not take the time to fully understand the justification for increases and usually (if not always) approve the rates ACES requests. Without the ability to protest a rate increase via Prop 218, city residents cannot stop a rate increase.

In May 2012, Sutter Creek residents successfully sued Sutter Creek because they did not follow Prop 218 for garbage rate increases. Subsequently, Sutter Creek citizens protested an increase that would have totalled 41% over 4.5 years. RPA is hopeful that the other four cities in Amador County (Ione, Jackson, Plymouth and Amador City) will also follow Prop 218 when ACES requests future rate increases.


Howard Jarvis Requests Sutter Creek Garbage Protest Recount

On May 6, 2013, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) sent a letter to Sutter Creek City Manager Sean Rabe concerning the protest count for a recent garbage rate increase. HJTA requests a recount of the parcels eligible to protest, and a recount of the protests themselves.

Director of HJTA Legal Affairs Timothy A. Bittle indicated that an HJTA member researched the mailing lists and found that Sutter Creek invalidated the successful protest by artificially inflating the total number of parcels needed to defeat the increase, and by disqualifying valid protests.

The City of Sutter Creek claimed that there were 1,174 parcels in which an owner or tenant was eligible to protest the garbage rate increase. However, approximately 90 parcels on the City's notification list were ineligible to protest either because the parcel is undeveloped, the parcel is not within the City, the parcel does not exist, or the parcel is listed more than once.

The City rejected valid protests too. Bittle pointed out that in some cases “protests were rejected because one spouse is named on the ACES account and the other spouse signed the protest, or because a tenant is named on the ACES account and the owner signed the protest, or because the protester, despite being an ACES customer, was not on the ACES list…The fact that 43 of 50 sampled protests were improperly disqualified suggests that most of the rejected protests should have been counted.”

The City has the burden to prove the accuracy of its calculations. HJTA has requested that the City conduct a recount or that the City explain the reasoning of its position on the matter.