Tulare County Superior Court Judge Patrick O'Hara issued a temporary restraining order Monday blocking the forced sale of two parcels of farmland in Orosi.
The Orosi Public Utility District sought the tax sale to recover money the district said it is owed for unpaid sewer line assessments.
The property is owned by Mary Jane Galbiso, who has fought a bitter battle over the assessments and won election to the district's board of directors in November.
But the dispute has riled the rural community, and Galbiso now faces a possible recall election.
The sale of the property was scheduled today. A new date must be set because of the court order, said Michael Lampe, attorney for the district. O'Hara also set a hearing for July 24 to decide if the sale can go ahead.
The property, just under 20 acres, was put on the auction block as the first step toward recovering $126,700, which Lampe said is Galbiso's share of installing a sewer line to the area. Galbiso said Monday that the sewer line does not serve her property, which has a farm building, but no homes. Plans by a previous owner to build homes never panned out, she added.
Galbiso is suing the district to get the assessments withdrawn. The case could go to trial.
Also Monday, the Tulare County Elections Division gave proponents of the proposed recall election permission to circulate a petition against Galbiso. Proponents have 60 days to collect 331 signatures of the district's 1,300 registered voters.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or (559) 622-2416.