Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Taxpayers Association on Thursday filed suit against Raleigh, alleging that the city improperly rejected a petition seeking a referendum on the city's debt load.
The lawsuit turns on the word "at."
The group said it gathered the signatures of more than 6,500 voters in April for a petition to place a referendum on the October ballot to require voter approval before Raleigh could take on any new debt.
City leaders rejected the petition, saying it didn't have enough signatures. The city charter requires petitions to have 10 percent of registered voters "at the last election."
The taxpayers group said they believe that means the percentage of people who voted, but Raleigh officials said it means 10 percent of all registered voters at that time.
"The purpose of this lawsuit is to make the court declare what the right of the people of the city of Raleigh is to fashion its own destiny when it comes to incurring debt," said Kieran Shanahan, a lawyer representing the group.