Taxing times |

Taxing times

Some possible legal snags have not stopped signature gathering to place a new Grass Valley sales tax before voters in November.

The initiative calls for a half-cent sales tax that would be used for road repair and to help build the Dorsey Drive interchange.

“I think we’re close to 900” signatures, the tax initiative’s leader and former mayor Patti Ingram said Monday.

The tax group, which includes former City Council members Dee Mautino and Steve Enos, needs 824 valid signatures, and Ingram said the goal is 1,200, just to make sure.

“We’ll keep after it,” Ingram said.

Ingram said she had a recent meeting with tax group attorney Michael Yaki to discuss potential legal hang-ups with the initiative. Ingram said Yaki and City Attorney Ruthann Ziegler, “have different points of view on the filing of paperwork” on the initiative.

Last week, City Clerk Kathi Bashor said the tax group did not produce their proof of publication about the initiative prior to gathering signatures, an action that could jeopardize getting the initiative on the ballot.

But Bashor said later that Ziegler told her to accept the proof of publication anyway and she would talk with Yaki about the timing ramifications.

Ziegler also sent a memo to city officials last week saying the State Board of Equalization would not collect and administer the taxes unless the initiative was first approved by the City Council and then two-thirds of city voters.

The board’s opinion was that a sales tax could not be initiated by voters alone, Ziegler said. She also told city officials that the City Council could place the tax on the ballot.

“I have no comment on the memo,” Ziegler said Monday. “I have been talking with the other attorney, and he will be doing some follow-up and some checking.”

Yaki could not be reached for comment, but he said last week he thought Ziegler and the State Board of Equalization were wrong.

The initiative from the voters can legally stand based on past California Supreme Court decisions, Yaki said.

Bashor said last week the tax initiative group has 180 regular days from May 23 to gather enough signatures to qualify for the election.

City Administrator Dan Holler said the city continues to be neutral in the matter and will not react to legal challenges or anything else concerning the initiative until the signatures are submitted.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail or call 477-4237.

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