By Polly Keary, Editor
A lawsuit brought against the city of Sultan by some of its residents over utility funds has been dismissed.
Thursday, Oct. 11, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz granted a motion to dismiss the suit, brought by a group of Sultan citizens calling themselves the “Utility Stakeholders.”
The group alleged that the city improperly used money in the city’s utility fund to pay expenses for other things, and asked for a refund of the money that they believed was misspent.
The city of Sultan, like many small towns, divides the cost of shared staff and buildings among several different funds, including utilities, the general fund and others.
The Utility Stakeholders believed that, in charging the costs to each fund in advance based on estimates, rather than after the real costs were known, the city was breaking state law.
The Stakeholders asked for a refund of the money they felt was misspent, plus interest.
Kurtz dismissed the case because he said the stakeholders hadn’t taken their grievances to the appropriate venue. Prior to going to court, the group should have gone to the state attorney general, whose job it is to monitor government agencies, he said.
The Utility Stakeholders conceded that they hadn’t gone to the attorney general, and then noted that the state auditor had given the city a clean audit, finding no wrongdoing in regards to the group’s allegations, according to a press release from the city of Sultan.
The win was gratifying, said Mayor Carolyn Eslick, but, she said, she regretted the money it cost the city in legal fees, about $10,000 in all.
“While I am pleased with the court’s decision, I am frustrated that the city had to needlessly incur the expenses to respond to a lawsuit that not only has no basis in fact, but was clearly not even filed in accordance with the law,” she said.