A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that an election on North San Joaquin Water Conservation District's groundwater charge will be held on Nov. 4, but it won't affect levies made on property owners for the current and past fiscal year.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Humphreys made the ruling after reviewing testimony on Tuesday.
North San Joaquin officials claimed that petitioner Bryan Pilkington, of Lockeford, failed to collect the necessary 10 percent of the registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.
Pilkington, who has also filed for a seat on the five-member North San Joaquin board, won the case, but district officials say the election is meaningless because it won't repeal anything.
"We'll spend $100,000 on an election on a groundwater charge for an initiative measure that will repeal the 2007-08 charge only, but the money has already been spent," said attorney Steve Herum, representing the North San Joaquin district.
The groundwater charge for the 2007-08 fiscal year has been legally collected, Herum said. If voters choose to repeal the groundwater charge, he added, it won't take effect until after the California Secretary of State's office certifies the election results 28 days after the election. That means it won't take effect until the 2009-10 fiscal year, he said.
"It's nothing more than a bad high school debate," Herum said.
Meanwhile, Pilkington's attorney, Tim Bittle from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, says the ballot measure, if successful, would prevent the North San Joaquin district from levying a groundwater charge in future years. However, the levies for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 fiscal years will remain in effect, Bittle said.