In the ongoing battle over revenue cap referenda, the city scored a victory in the courts yesterday.
Anti-tax activist Bruce Hotze lost a legal battle with the city on Thursday, but said he will continue to fight for a cap on all city revenues.
The cap was Proposition 2, which voters passed in 2004. The city has not enforced it, because voters also passed another cap mechanism by a wider margin. That cap, Proposition 1, is not as restrictive.
"I'm mad as a hornet that the appellate court has sent this back to the lower court on a technicality," said Hotze, a local businessman and limited-government activist. "We're going to take this all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to."
The "technicality" is Hotze's right to sue, known as "standing." The 14th Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Hotze and his group had no standing to bring the suit, and sent it back to district court to give him one more chance to claim standing on different grounds.
"We are gratified to have prevailed in the Court of Appeals," Mayor Bill White said in a statement. "We respect those who have fought for tax limits for years," he added.
The judgment affirmed the city's decision to use Proposition 1 instead of Proposition 2, even though both were approved by voters, said Scott Atlas, the city's outside counsel.
The standing issue is crucial, Atlas said.
"If you give every taxpayer the right to challenge decisions like this that the government makes, you'll be tied up in courts forever."
Hotze's attorney, Andy Taylor, pointed out that the First Court of Appeals did give Hotze standing on a related lawsuit that forced the mayor to certify the vote on Proposition 2.
"Somebody's got to have the right to challenge the government," Taylor said. "He's been the pioneer taking the arrows from the beginning, and who would have standing if Bruce Hotze doesn't have standing?"