California’s leading expert on local government revenues
Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC is California’s leading expert on our complex laws governing local government revenues, including Propositions 13, 62, 218 and 26. Our attorneys argued 10 government revenue cases to the California Supreme Court:
- Richmond v. Shasta CSD (2004) (water connection charges not subject to Prop. 218)
- Bonander v. Town of Tiburon (2009) (statute of limitation for challenge to 1911 Act assessment)
- Greene v. Marin County Flood Control & Water Conservation District (2010) (property‑owner elections on fees not subject to election secrecy that applies to registered-voter elections)
- Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (2011) (Government Claims Act allows class action claims for tax and fee refunds in cities without contrary local claiming ordinances)
- Alhambra & 46 Other Cities v. County of Los Angeles (2012) (calculation of property tax administrative fees with respect to property taxes paid to cities in lieu of sales taxes and VLF under Triple Flip and VLF Swap)
- McWilliams v. City of Long Beach (2013) (Government Claims Act preempts local claiming ordinances as to tax and fee refund claims; class actions permitted)
- Greene v. Marin County Flood Control & Water Conservation District (2010) 49 Cal.4th 277 (property owner ballots on property related fees under Prop. 218 not subject to ballot secrecy)
- Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara (2017) 3 Cal.5th 248 (supplemental franchise not a tax even though passed through to utility customers if reasonably related to value of right of way made available)
- City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1191 (groundwater augmentation charge subject to Proposition 26, not 218)
- Citizens for Fair REU Rates, Feefighter, LLC v. City of Redding (argued May 30, 2018), (Is transfer from electric utility to City’s general fund grandfathered by Proposition 26?)
Public finance laws
We have been leaders in speaking, writing, advising and litigating matters under California’s initiative public .finance laws since 1995. Our experience includes:
Although Proposition 13 was approved in 1978, well before our practice leaders were active lawyers, we are active in current developments under the measure and similar property tax and post-redevelopment disputes, as follows:
- Counsel for 47 Cities in City of Alhambra, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al. (2012) 55 Cal.4th 707 (calculation of property tax administration fees on taxes received in lieu of Vehicle License Fees and sales taxes under the VLF Swap and Triple Flip)
- Counsel for the League of California Cities as amicus in City of Scotts Valley v. County of Santa Cruz (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 97 (calculation of no- and low-property tax city subvention) (counsel for amici)
- Counsel for local government amici in Arcadia Redevelopment Agency v. Ikemoto (1993) 16 Cal.App.4th 444 (agency challenge to application of property tax administration fees to tax increment)
- Counsel for local government amici in Neilson v. City of California City (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 1296 (flat-rate parcel tax not an unconstitutional general tax, but rather a special tax dedicated to specific purposes; equal protection does not entitle absentee landowners to vote)
- Counsel for respondent local government in Griffith v. Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 586 upholding groundwater augmentation charges under Props. 13 and 218)
- We provide advice to local governments of all kinds in complying with Proposition 13.
- We are frequent speakers, writers, and commenters in the press on issues arising under Proposition 13.
In short, Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC and its lawyers have unmatched experience and expertise in the complex laws governing municipal revenues under California’s constitution and related laws. Whether you seek new revenues, advice about maintaining those you have or representation in litigation, we have the skill to provide the most sophisticated representation possible.