In a surprise vote last night, the D.C. City Council defeated a move to delay this year's scheduled Advisory Neighborhood Commission elections, but tentatively agreed to put off until 1984 balloting to select three tax-paid officials who would lobby Congress to grant statehood to the District.
The council also gave final approval to an omnibus tax and user-fee bill that is expected to raise about $40 million through 1984 and would more than triple average water and sewer rates over the next five years.
The council's vote on the elections was a setback for Mayor Marion Barry, who was in the council chamber and had lobbied up to the last minute to delay the ANC elections until next year and to put off election of the lobbyists until 1986.
The council's action was the latest development in the political maneuvering that has swirled around lagging efforts by the city to clean up the administrative disarray in the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics and avert balloting problems that have marred elections here for several years.
The council took no action on school board elections scheduled for this year, and several members said it was still unclear what elections, if any, will be held. The council is scheduled to vote on the elections issue again in two weeks.
The council session last night climaxed a hectic day of lobbying on the elections issue by Barry and Council Chairman David A. Clarke, who had earlier agreed on a consolidation plan that would have put off the ANC and school board elections until next year and the statehood balloting until 1986.
Their effort failed late yesterday afternoon when council member William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), chairman of the Government Operations Committee, refused to consider the proposal without first holding public hearings.
Barry previously had supported holding school board elections this year, but said last night that he altered his stance after working out the compromise plan with Clarke and Spaulding at a meeting last week. Spaulding said yesterday that he had never agreed to the plan.
Spaulding also suffered a setback last night when a bill he offered that would have delayed only the ANC elections was sidetracked by John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who moved to go ahead with the election of ANC members.
"It is subverting democracy to cancel an election," Wilson said. "If a government doesn't have the ability to hold an election, maybe the government shouldn't be here." Wilson's motion was adopted on a 7-to-5 roll call vote.
Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), who voted to hold the ANC elections, said later her vote was a parliamentary move to allow her to bring up Barry and Clarke's consolidation plan at the next council session.
The vote to hold the ANC elections came despite earlier testimony by elections officials that the board is incapable of conducting those elections this year because of confusion surrounding city voter rolls and district boundaries of the 367 commisioners, each of whom represents about 2,000 residents.
To add to the elections confusion, the council also approved new boundaries last night for the ANC members, but agreed to use the old boundaries because elections officials have said they cannot certify the new boundaries in time for an ANC election this year.
Election officials also said they may have trouble using the old data because computer information used to conduct previous elections is missing. "It was mostly erroneous, anyway," an elections official said.
Delay of the statehood balloting, under which city voters would elect one "representative" and two "senators" to lobby Congress, was approved by a 7-to-6 vote. Barry and several council members have argued that the city is not ready o present its statehood proposal to Congress. A proposed constitution was ratified by voters last year, but several council members said they expect it to be amended before being seriously considered by Congress.
Those voting to postpone statehood balloting until 1984 were Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), who opposed the 1986 date, Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large), John Ray (D-At Large), Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8), Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), Spaulding and Wilson.
Voting against the 1984 date were Clarke and H. R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), who favored 1986, and Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), and Shackleton.
The council approved the tax bill without debate. The measure includes an increase in a variety of professional and licensing fees along with a rise in the gross receipts tax on public utilities, which alone is expected to raise about $8 million.
The sharp rises in water and sewer fees, which would raise the average annual bill from about $121 to $393 in five years, is needed to offset a growing deficit in the water and sewer fund, officials said.