Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett abused his authority when he decided not to give the Board of Elections a petition challenging the county's authority to increase the energy tax, local activist Robin Ficker argued in a lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Ficker submitted 14,500 signatures to put on the November ballot a requirement that the County Council unanimously approve any increase in the energy tax that raises revenue by more than the rate of inflation, a rule that would be nearly identical to one that already exists for the county's property tax rates.
Though Ficker only needed 10,000 valid signatures to get the matter before voters in November, Leggett announced he would not send the petitions to the Board of Elections, which Leggett is required to do only after he certifies the petitions are legal.
Because the county's authority to pass the energy tax is established in state law, voters cannot restrict that authority, County Attorney Marc Hansen said.
But refusing to pass along the petitions "was an abuse of discretion and in excess of his statutory authority," Ficker's lawsuit says.
Leggett could not be reached for comment.