By John Hrabe | Cal Watchdog
Fresno residents could see their water rates double, and in the process, all Californians could see their petition powers diminished, if a state appellate court doesn’t act quickly on a lawsuit to stop strong-arm tactics by the city of Fresno.
The battle began last August, when the city of Fresno approved a controversial plan pushed by Mayor Ashley Swearengin to raise the city’s water rates. The additional revenue would go towards a $410 million upgrade to the city’s aging water system.
Under Swearengin’s plan, most water users, which include city residents and some unincorporated parts of Fresno County, would see their average monthly bills rise to $48, double what they were last year. That didn’t sit well with a group of taxpayers, led by former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim, who mobilized a grassroots effort to overturn the rate hikes.