Gino DiCaro

LA County storm water parcel tax derailed

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Jan. 18, 2013 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Los Angeles County officials have decided to wait on pushing a local ballot measure that would have imposed a new parcel fee on all property owners. The fee, estimated to generate roughly $290 million per year, would have been used on initiatives to reduce storm and urban runoff pollution and be assessed on all 2.2 million parcels within the flood control district. The cost was estimated to range from $54 a year for the average single-family home to $15-20,000 for large commercial properties. The proceeds would have been divided among municipalities where the properties are located, new watershed authority groups working on regional projects, and the flood control district.

While some local government officials and environmental groups supported the measure, school districts, residents and commercial and industrial property owners were enraged about the financial hit to them if the measure were to pass. The Los Angeles Unified School District suggested the measure could cost them alone up to $4.8 million a year at a time when schools are imposing severe cuts to educational programs. A CMTA manufacturer estimated the “fee” would cost them in excess of a quarter of a million dollars per year.  

Initially, the Board of Supervisors decided they would not move forward with an election on the measure if they received written concerns from a majority of property owners. While a significant number of parcel owners were not aware that they had been sent ballots in early December, the Board was inundated with letters protesting an increase.  On January 15th, the LA Board of Supervisors decided that the timing was not right to submit this proposal to the voters. A major breakthrough was the Board’s acknowledgement that this would be a tax and not a fee, increasing the voter requirement for passage from 51 to 66 percent. It was also decided that if the measure does go to a ballot, it will be done through a traditional ballot box vote of all voters, not by mail to parcel owners.  

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