Public Petition and Demand for Action by the Sonoma City Council to Fix Illegal Activities
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Public Petition and Demand for Action by the Sonoma City Council to Correct Illegal Activities by the City of Sonoma
The City of Sonoma has imposed tiered conservation water rates at least since the Water Rate Study of 2014; these rates violate state law.
Accordingly, the City of Sonoma has collected revenues from ratepayers exceeding reasonable and fair costs, proscribed by amendments to California’s State Constitution. To date, it appears approximately $6 million has been improperly transferred out of the city’s water fund and used for other government activities without lawful voter approval.
The most recent audited financial statement issued by the City of Sonoma covers through June 30, 2015; meanwhile, the City continues to make financial decisions, sign contracts, allocate non-budgeted spending, and conduct labor negotiations, all without sufficient financial information. Moreover, the City of Sonoma appears to be violating covenants of its debt and bondholder agreements.
Thus in order to correct financial and legal improprieties, we the Citizens of the City of Sonoma demand the City Council take the
following actions within 30 days of receipt of this petition and proceed without delay to end any malfeasance and financial mismanagement of taxpayer money:
1. Place a public hearing on the City Council agenda and direct staff to prepare and deliver a comprehensive report of any and all
financial improprieties, errors, omissions, misappropriations, or mismanagement found to date since 2009 and to restore public trust openly review any previous decisions made on this matter in order to remedy any actual or potential Brown Act violations.
2. Provide resources and direction to staff to quickly and diligently complete a Water Rate and Cost Allocation Study that is legally
supportable and equitable to all rate-payers, provides the administrative record that justifies rate-payers charges, protects the City from future legal challenges, restores public trust and relieves water users from unlawful rates.
3. Terminate the contract with the City of Sonoma's current CPA firm for failing to properly alert the public or regulators and advise Council on these matters, thereby costing ratepayers millions of dollars; then issue a Request for Proposal for a new CPA firm with both experience and resources necessary to properly audit and advise the City of Sonoma of its required legal financial obligations.
4. Terminate the contract with the current City Attorney for failing to properly alert the public or regulators or advise Council on these
matters, and issue a Request for Proposal for a replacement City Attorney with the necessary qualifications to properly represent the
City of Sonoma in all legal matters.
5. Restate previous years’ financial statements in accordance with GASB provisions (Government Accounting Standards Board) to
properly account for the restricted Water Fund cash flows and transfers, reclassifying them as appropriate as loans from the Water Fund to the General Fund to relieve any actual or potential legal jeopardy for staff or City Council, and to restore the reputation of the City of Sonoma and its citizens.
6. Return all money improperly transferred since the passage of Prop. 218 and Prop. 26 respectively, to the Water Fund, first assuring the soundness and safety of water delivery infrastructure funding and then returning any remaining money to ratepayers.
7. Pass a Council Resolution that at minimum states: To provide transparency, encourage public trust and avert mismanagement or
malfeasance, the City Manager shall each calendar month provide City Council and the public a Treasurer’s Report on the previous
month, to be placed on the City Council meeting agenda after Public Comments at the second Council Meeting of the following
calendar month or the immediate next meeting. At a minimum, these reports should contain the following: Monthly and Year-to-Date Budget and Actual Revenues and comparative expense report in accordance with GASB for each major department and in summary for the City; detail of all non-payroll disbursements; Bank Reconciliation Report tied to the bank statement; Balance Sheet; Summary Project Progress financial data compared to budget. A written affirmation signed by the City Manager that the reports have been reviewed by the City Manager for completeness and in compliance with the budget as approved by City Council shall be provided. Finally, the City Manager and Staff should be prepared to answer questions from the public and Council on the items therein.
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