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    Statewide Parcel Tax (For Schools) Qualifies For November Ballot, Clouding Possible LB Parcel Tax (Police/Fire/Libraries) In November

    (July 6, 2006) -- An initiative ballot measure to impose a parcel property tax of $50 (to start) on nearly every piece of real property in California [with an exemption for some elderly and disabled homeowners] has qualified for the November 2006 ballot...colliding with City Hall plans to put a LB parcel tax [for police, fire and libraries] on the same election ballot.

    The statewide measure (for additional public school K-12 funding for "class size reduction, textbooks, school safety, Academic Success facility grants and a data system to evaluate educational program effectiveness") only needs a 55% vote to pass...but the LB measure (billed as for police, fire and libraries) would require a 2/3 vote to pass.

    In early 2006, LB city management first floated the idea of a parcel property tax applied only to residential property owners (not commercial or industrial)...but at the May 23, 2006 City Council meeting (and without disclosing details in its agendized materials) city management revealed that it's developing an even larger proposed parcel tax for the November ballot than it previously suggested.

    City management discussed a measure that would impose (preliminary estimate) a levy of $100/yr on single family homeowners, $65-$75/unit for multi-unit residences and $1,500-$5,000 per year for commercial/industrial parcels for police, fire and libraries.

    LBPD also said at that time that it now seems "most practical, considering both the financial and operational impacts" to add 100 patrol officers + 12 Sgts, 3 Lts, 28 Detectives + clerical support.

    During the recent Mayoral campaign, then-candidate Bob Foster voiced concerns about regressive effects of the parcel tax as well as possible anti-business effects [if applied to commercial/industrial property] but stopped short of taking a categorical position on it at that time.

    As previously reported by LBReport.com, city management originally proposed a half cent sales tax increase applicable in LB...which drew fire as making LB businesses less competitive than in surrounding cities.

    The proposed sales tax also collided with announced plans (first reported by LBReport.com) by L.A. County Sheriff Leroy Baca to support a ballot measure to increase the sales tax Countywide, framed as an anti-gang measure. If the Countywide sales tax measure were placed on the ballot by County Supervisors and passed by voters in November, it's expected that LB City Hall would receive a sizable cut of resulting tax revenue. (A previously proposed Countywide sale tax hike backed by Sheriff Baca, framed for homeland security purposes, was backed by LB City Hall and failed with voters).

    As previously reported by LBReport.com, city management hired (with Council approval) two firms [taxpayer cost as of Dec. 2005: approx. $80,000] to advise City Hall on how best to convince LB voters to pass a tax increase measure. The deadline for a Council vote to put a proposed LB tax increase on the ballot is roughly the first week in August.

    On the front page of its website, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association comes out swinging against the statewide parcel tax, noting that it imposes the $50 property tax "regardless of income or property value." The argument that the statewide parcel tax is regressive could be made with equal force against a LB parcel tax...since it would impose the same tax on NLB and Naples properties.

    In arguing against the statewide measure, the Jarvis group says the parcel tax "will fall disproportionately on homeowners of modest means. The added tax burden on the mansions of [the proponents] will be no higher than that which will fall on a couple buying a starter home."

    The Howard Jarvis group adds, "To make matters worse, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell is actively backing this [statewide parcel tax] measure and has declared his support for increasing the tax by $50 every four years!"

    The Jarvis group has signaled that it intends to wage a vigorous campaign against the statewide parcel tax...possibly creating a coat-tail effect that could sink a LB parcel tax.

    "This is the first time in California history that a statewide property tax would be imposed and it is a dangerous precedent that we cannot allow to be set. If [the proponents] succeed, it is a sure bet that other statewide property tax proposals will be pushed. After all, if a statewide property tax can be passed for education, it is just as likely that one can be passed for public safety, flood and levee repairs, transportation, public health care, pensions, etc. If CLAA is approved, it could set off a chain reaction that has the potential to wipe out all the Proposition 13 savings taxpayers have benefited from over the years."

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