The outgoing city treasurer, and the city councilman vying for his job, will be facing off on April’s ballot as they try to convince voters to either keep the treasurer as an appointment, or change it to an elected position.
Councilman Rafi Manoukian and Treasurer Ron Borucki are set to file their 300-word arguments by Jan. 25, a day after the four people who have indicated they want to run for the open seat will have to turn in 100 signatures each to make their candidacy official.
For the first time in more than two decades, more than two candidates are seeking the treasurer’s post, which is especially significant given the fact that if voters choose to allow the city manager to appoint the treasurer, the winner of the election would not be managing the city’s nearly $380 million investment portfolio.
While Manoukian contends that the push for an appointed treasurer is motivated by political opposition toward him, Borucki said in an interview that the best person to do the job can’t be found through the electoral process.
“You’re not going to attract the people you want to attract to be city treasurer,” he said.
But the latest person to pull nomination papers for treasurer, Raffi Melkonian, said a an added challenge for him will be competing against Manoukian, who has a similar name.
“We have the same first name, similar last name,” Melkonian said.
In addition to deciding who would write the ballot arguments for the treasurer measure, the City Council this past week reluctantly named Vanguardians — a nonprofit that’s long been critical of City Hall — to write an argument against another measure that would change how the city transfers money from Glendale Water & Power to the General Fund, which pays for most public services.
Several council members who have been criticized by the group tried to block them, but were advised against it by the city attorney.
“So even if all five of us don’t want that association to write it, we can’t stop it,” said Councilman Dave Weaver.
Vanguardians members have railed against the annual money transfer, likening it to a backdoor tax as utility rates rise but capital improvements remain on hold.
But even if the ballot measure falls flat, city officials have said they plan to continue to transferring tens of millions of dollars from the utility.
From the city’s perspective, the changes would simplify the transfer process, but critics say they would fundamentally change how it should be done.
Both point to the city charter and get two different interpretations. Opponents contend the city should only transfer a percentage of money from a surplus fund — which the measure would get rid of. Officials say they can take a percentage of gross revenues as they currently do.