Council members on Monday approved a revised ordinance that reduces the maximum contribution that candidates are allowed to receive from any person, organization or entity to $1,000 per election.
It also adds an enforcement provision that requires a candidate to return any funds received in excess of the maximum within 30 days of discovering the violation.
The previous ordinance limited candidates to $2,000 in donations from any person, organization or group to every two years.
City Attorney Kimberly Barlow and City Manager Stephen Dunn recommended the council make the changes at a recent council meeting.
Instead, council members asked the City Council Advisory Committee, which drafted the ordinance in 2011, to regroup and report back to the council on their thinking behind selecting the $2,000 limit per two years.
The council heard the report at its April 8 meeting and voted to have Barlow draft a revised ordinance with the changes.
Committee Chairman Tom Mitchell said the changes were in line with what committee members had originally proposed.
"The new lower limit of $1,000 was actually the amount that was favored by the majority of the City Council Advisory Committee," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the committee reviewed several factors before determining the campaign limit amount such as the amount of contributions spent on successful campaigns, the number of votes required to compete with successful campaigns, the number of households in Upland, the number of registered voters in the city and how many contribute to a campaign.
They also looked into the amount of contributions under $99, under $500 and larger.
"It was not random or arbitrary. The original $2,000 doubled the preferred limit was an amount settled on as a compromise of those people who objected to the 2-year time period," Mitchell said.
The committee had originally considered the $1,000 level, "which seems more appropriate and, as staff will say, it has leveled the playing field. "
Councilman Gino Filippi has voted against the ordinance since its conception, but ultimately voted in favor of the revised ordinance.
Filippi said he believed the ordinance placed unfair limitations on candidates who chose to run in consecutive elections within a two-year time period.
"I was encouraged that the language was corrected by the city attorney and city manager to 'per election', and, although I believe the policy is not without blemish, it is palatable," he said. "I understand that it cannot prevent a candidate from utilizing personal money for their campaign as well. "
Filippi said the issue has utilized too much time.
"There are more important issues that need to be addressed in our city including street maintenance and public safety," he said.