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Update 1/10/2023

How many signatures were required for the City of Camas to accept the petition for the referendum? 

There was a requirement to collect 2,730 signatures from eligible registered voters residing within Camas city limits. Our team had a stretch goal of acquiring 3,000. Because of the efforts of our hard-working and passionate grassroots team, and their willingness to withstand the rigors of wind, rain, and icy conditions, we surpassed that number and submitted 3,160 signatures to the City Clerk by the 5:00 pm PST deadline on Monday, January 9, 2023. 

What are the remaining procedural steps for Camas Referendum 1? 

The City Clerk shall verify the sufficiency of the signatures on the petitions. If sufficient valid signatures are submitted, the City Clerk shall cause the referendum measure to be submitted to the City voters at the next election within the City or at a special election as provided pursuant to RCW 35.17.260(2).

Is this a partisan effort?  

No. The grassroots team assembled to gather signatures reflect bi-partisan values. Our volunteer teams included a mix of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents - all dedicated to the democratic process.  

Is this referendum explicitly asking Camas residents to reject the Utility Tax?

No. The mission of the referendum has always been to return voting rights to Camas residents. Our mission has never been about "yes or no," rather returning the voting power to the people on a tax that directly impacts wallets.

As of December 2023: 


What’s the purpose of a referendum? 

A referendum allows voters to approve by a majority vote a question placed on the ballot. In this case, a referendum is needed to give all registered voters residing in the City of Camas an opportunity to either affirm or deny a decision made by Camas City Council on December 5, 2022, to impose a residential utility tax by way of city ordinance. Voting in a referendum would effectively give Camas residents a direct vote, rather than tax being voted on by city council representatives. In the simplest of terms, voting in a referendum restores the voice of Camasonians on a decision that directly impacts them.  


What am I signing? 

By signing this referendum petition, you are pledging your support to bring the decision of whether to repeal or approve this imposition of tax to a vote in a special election to be held in April 2023. Your signature on this petition only supports the position of approval to bring this question to a vote - it does not indicate your personal position or how you plan to vote in the referendum. Your signature will be contributing to the meeting of 15% quota of registered voters required for approval to proceed in a special referendum vote. All signatures that appear on petition sheets will be verified by the Clark County Auditor.  

What is Camas Referendum 1 asking the voters to decide on?  
The Camas City Council passed a 2% utility tax on Camas citizens, should that tax be approved or rejected? This is the non-partisan question we are asking you to consider. 


Can we file a referendum on the utility tax later if we don’t like it? 

No.  The power to referendum is a one-time only power.  Either we use it or lose it

What does the city need this tax for?  

Camas doesn’t need the tax. City staff and the Mayor told City Council that the 2023-2024 budget could have been fully funded WITHOUT any utility tax. Also, the City of Camas currently has over $100,000,000 in cash and cash equivalents in the bank! They have enough money to run the City for seven months without getting another dollar of tax from residents.

Other cities have a utility tax - why should Camas be any different? 

Because Camas has many of the highest tax rates in Clark County to account for not having a utility tax!

→ Highest Property Tax: 2.4%

→ Highest School Tax Rate: 4.38%  

→ Highest Port District Tax: 0.15%

→ Second Highest Sales Tax:  8.5%


Why should I support Referendum 1? 

We believe that all Camas residents should feel supported by their elected representatives, in that their decisions reflect the will of those they represent. This is especially true for decisions made to impose taxes. The decision to support the utility tax was approved on a 4-3 vote. Consensus was not reached amongst our council members. This is another reason  why we believe this issue needs to be brought to a vote. Additional points we ask you to consider include: 


  • Camas City Council could have had a fully funded 2023-2024 budget with ZERO utility tax. (Camas City Council Meeting, November 21, 2022)

  • The City of Camas currently has cash and cash equivalent assets of over $100,000,000. (City of Camas 2022 3Q Financial Review, Slide 21). We anticipate this to stay at healthy levels as the City will also benefit from increased cash flows as the city continues to grow. 

  • Senior Citizens and Camas residents on fixed incomes can’t afford new taxes right now. (Camas City Council Public Hearing Testimony, November 21, 2022). For those living on fixed incomes, every cent counts. 

  • The tax was approved with a “2-year sunset” provision but there is no guarantee that this tax will ever retire. The 2% imposition is also subject to change. This has already happened to the City of Vancouver where a 28.9% utility tax is imposed.

  • Washougal refuses to pay their contractual share for funding the joint Camas-Washougal Fire Department, why should Camas 100% of the bill? (Camas City Council Meeting, November 21, 2022). Currently, Washougal accounts for 40 percent of costs. 

  • Camas City Council voted to establish a 2% utility tax despite citizen opposition during public hearing - they can’t ignore our vote at the ballot box. (Camas City Council Meeting, November 21, 2022)


In supporting this referendum initiative, you will be making history as this is the first ever referendum to be issued in the City of Camas!  

How many signatures does this referendum require Camas need?  

15% of registered voters in Camas, approximately 3000 signatures, as calculated by the Clark County Auditor.


What is the deadline to sign the referendum?  

All signatures must be collected and turned into Camas City Hall by January 9, 2023.


Can I sign electronically or by email?  

No. Washington law requires that all signatures must be original, signed in ink on paper copies of the referendum petition.

Why are we able to referendum this tax and not others?  

Washington law allows citizens to file referenda on utility taxes when they are FIRST enacted.  Since this is a NEW utility for Camas, we are allowed by law to file this referendum.  

What happens to the utility tax before citizens vote whether to approve or reject?  

By law, the utility tax passed by Camas City Council is suspended until the citizens vote on it at the next election. In other words, the City cannot take any utility tax from us until after we have spoken.

What will the city do with the tax?

Camas City Hall now says the utility tax will go into the General Fund that can be used for all sorts of city services.  But the Camas Finance Director, Cathy Huber-Nickerson, said at the public hearing the tax will go to pay Washougal’s share of fire and emergency services that it refuses to pay for. So the City Council decided that Camasonians will cover the bill that Washougal refuses to pay.

I’ve heard the tax is a 2-year only tax? That this tax will sunset. Is that true? 

It is true that Councilor Lewallen introduced a sunset provision into the utility tax ordinance, which was very good governance. The sunset provision says that the tax will expire in 2 years at the latest. However, the City Council could remove the sunset provision, renew or increase.

We elected our council members for a reason. Why are you trying to disrupt the actions of our elected officials?  
The opportunity for citizens to file a referendum on the utility tax was voted on and approved by the City Council. It’s written in the Ordinance they passed. They gave us this option. The Camas Municipal Code and Clark County Charter also gives citizens the power to file a referendum. Referendum 1 doesn’t seek to disrupt anything, just allow citizens to vote on whether they want a new tax or not.  Referendum 1 is merely an expression of a right we as citizens have been legally given by Washington State, the Clark County Charter and the Camas Municipal Code.



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