Ratepayers alliance refiles lawsuit against city

Here’s my story on the latest in the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance v. City of Bainbridge Island saga:

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — The Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance has sent a reminder to the city that their legal fight isn’t over.

Late last week, the alliance re-filed the lawsuit it initially brought against the city in April 2009.

The lawsuit reasserts the alliance’s claim that the city misappropriated utility funds, alliance member Dick Allen said.

The lawsuit’s key assertion — that the city cannot pursue bond funding to upgrade the Winslow sewer plant — was thrown out by a Kitsap County judge in September.

The alliance appealed, but later agreed to put aside certain objections that were preventing the city from obtaining the bond. The agreement also halted a planned sewer rate surcharge aimed at covering the blocked funding.

The re-filed lawsuit is not significantly different from the original. It asserts that the city improperly used utility funds for projects and general fund allocations that did not directly benefit utility ratepayers.

Interim City Manager Lee Walton said he was “disappointed” to learn the lawsuit was re-filed.

“Since we have the same objective to do the right thing for citizens it’s unfortunate we can’t come to an agreement,” he said.

He stressed that the lawsuit will not impact the sewer plant project.