L.A. County to Consider Tax Hike for Clean Water Programs

County property owners received mailers this week on a proposed tax measure to cover costs for improving water quality and reducing pollution.

A Los Angeles County supervisor this week urged people to learn about a proposed fee to pay for clean water programs.

"This is a tax increase proposal,'' Supervisor Michael Antonovich said, warning that the piece looks like junk mail. "Don't throw it away.''

The Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure tells property owners how much each would pay annually and a form for objecting to the idea.

A typical single-family homeowner would pay about $54 on average and condominium owners $20 or less, according to Phil Doudar, project manager for the initiative. About 90 percent of parcel owners would likely pay less than $100, though large commercial property owners could pay thousands of dollars.

If approved, property owners would be charged an annual fee to cover costs associated with improving water quality and reducing pollution from urban runoff.

Department of Public Works Director Gail Farber warned earlier this year that county waterways are choked with trash, infection-causing bacteria, toxic chemicals, lead, copper and other metals, oil and grease.

As proposed, the measure would raise about $276 million annually to be split between Los Angeles County's Flood Control District, nine watershed areas set up to manage cleanup projects and the rest of the cities that make up the county.

The Flood Control District spent an estimated $340 million to control pollutants in fiscal year 2010-11, according to Farber, who has estimated the cost of complying with existing water-quality regulations to be in the billions of dollars.

But Antonovich and Supervisor Don Knabe objected to what they called atax on residents, saying funding should come from the federal or state government.

Antonovich and Knabe voted against the proposal in July, arguing that it should be put to voters in a future election rather than to property owners via a mail-in ballot.

"It really is disingenuous,'' Knabe said today. "Clearly the intent of  this piece of mail is to look like junk mail.''

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who backs the measure -- the result of years of consensus building between municipalities and environmentalists -- disagreed, saying it looks much like rate increase notices from local utilities.

The notice is just the first step in the approval process.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 15 during the board's regular weekly meeting at 9:30 a.m.

If a majority of property owners protest the fee in writing before the end of that meeting, the fee will not be imposed.

If a majority do not object, a ballot would be mailed to property owners. And if a majority of ballots returned are in favor of the measure, the fee would be charged.

More information is available at www.lacountycleanwater.org.

Charles Hofgaarden December 05, 2012 at 03:51 PM
There will be no end to these fees coming from all levels of government in California. As our tax load becomes unbearable and the economy falters, we'll have no one but ourselves to blame if we don't stop this madness and start holding government accountable. There isn't enough money in the world to pay for the government monstrosity besetting upon us. It's time to say NO!
Michael December 05, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Too late for that. CA and the country has just past the tipping point where the have-nots (50%), the corrupt government employees (cops, fireman all taking "disability"/huge pensions) about 10%, will vote to take the money from the remaining 40% that work. I wish it was not so, but it's time to face reality: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Fraser_Tytler
David V. December 05, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Wrong, Charles. We *need* fees such as this one. They are user fees -- charging us for the pollution we cause. We are currently imposing externalities on other people and on our children and their children by polluting water at no cost. That makes using resources seem cheaper than it really is. Imposing this type of small fees will internalize costs -- making us understand the true costs of our consumption choices. The environment is precious. We have to pay to protect it. The consequences of failing to do so are dire. To oppose this fee is to favor your own narrow, selfish interests over those of the public good and the fate of the earth.
C. Robinson December 05, 2012 at 08:50 PM
You are dead wrong David, We don't need "taxes" such as this one, especially when there are already existing programs in place and/or are being taxed to do the same thing. They do call it a "fee", but when it appears on my property tax bill, its a tax. They also call it a "Public Health" issue. If it is such, then why are property owners being targeted and not the "General Public" as a end user tax.... I mean FEE. I don't have anything they listed in their measure as the "Problems" happening on my property regardless of their engineers report. The environment IS precious, you are right. We can best protect it by each being responsible individuals. Why should I have to pay for irresponsible people who carelessly throw trash out their car windows. I'm doing my part in being responsible, why can't everybody? Its not rocket science.
Michael December 06, 2012 at 04:38 AM
You need to tear off the inside note with your name and parcel number, check the "protest" box and sign your name. A .45 cent stamp is a lot cheaper than a property tax increase. The article is correct, it looks like junk mail to fool you (look above and you can see one of the fools). It's from "Clean Water, Clean Beached Program." Don't let the government WASTE more of your money, send it in this week.
Don't TAX Me Bro! December 06, 2012 at 05:28 AM
LA County Meadure O (http://www.lapropo.org/) was for this nothing was done! - Money down the toilet and they ask for more to flush! just say NO!
Rebecca December 06, 2012 at 06:45 AM
Mine (residential home) showed $240 would be owed on the property tax .. not $54 !
jay December 06, 2012 at 08:28 AM
this one is a real stinker if the junk mail exterior trick is true. what a rotten way to try to deceive us into paying even more. it is even more a stinker to keep hearing how our public citizens who we admire like our peace officers and firemen who protect us and our school teachers who educate and protect our children are corrupt and do not work. what an unconscionable and toxic attitude!
Leigh Datzker December 06, 2012 at 07:08 PM
It is more interesting that they sent these notices to those of us who own homes that are not on sewers as the run off goes into the reservoir and not any further. The run-off provides a habitat for our local wildlife and does not contribute to any pollution. If the County wants to charge such a fee, then install sewer lines in Box and Woolsey Canyon.
Jo December 06, 2012 at 11:34 PM
By the time you add up all taxes: fed, state, sales, gasoline, utilities, property taxes, electronics recycling taxes, car registration taxes, and customary overcharge taxes, CA is the worst in the nation and more and more residents are voting with their feet as they flee this socialist state. Can't the politicians just look across the pond at Greece to see the direction this is going??? PENSIONS are the #1 cause of California and LA's problems. The politicians get kickbacks from the unions in exchange for lavish pensions and retiree benefits. It is an unholy alliance, and Government Moon Beam created this monstrosity in the 70's by allowing government employees to unionize here in CA. Now we are paying the price. I will move out of this socialist state as soon as I can. 30 states have Republican governors and they are run efficiently; might as well pick one of those. For the amount of money I save from taxes I can go on a cruise during the bad weather....inside cabin will be just fine.
David V. December 07, 2012 at 03:22 AM
"We can best protect [the environment] by each being responsible individuals," C. Robinson writes. It is true that it's better if we each act responsibly. But it is impossible to rely on individual initiative when we face a collective problem. Saving the earth is just such a collective matter, for it is subject to "collective action" problems. Absent stringent regulations and mandatory taxes, there is no way to ensure that everyone acts in the environment's best interest. No individual can spend his or her money to protect the environment as effectively as government -- i.e., all of us acting collectively -- can. That's why this is a governmental problem, which requires contributions from all of us. We can debate whether it should be in the form of a property tax or an income tax or some other kind of tax -- but there is no doubt that taxation is the answer to this (and so many of our other) problems.
David V. December 07, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Then please move, Jo. This threat to leave, or to go "John Galt," is pure posturing -- an empty threat. We are suffering not from pensions or unions or other such scarecrows that attack working people unfairly -- but rather from a dysfunctional initiative system and its capstone -- Propositon 13, which has led to revenue distortions and a starved government unable to do its job of helping people and education the public. I would not want to live in a low-tax, low service state, as in the deep South. Such places have failed to thrive economically in the way that high-tax, high-service states, such as Massachusetts, have.
Michael December 07, 2012 at 04:00 AM
CA unemployment is 20%, David V your analysis makes you look like a fool. http://www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm
Gregory Brittain December 07, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Government starved? As Ronald Reagan said “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.” “Adjusted for inflation, California’s government spending increased 42 percent per capita from 2000 to 2010.” http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/reason-rupe-poll-california-voters-moving-towards-wisconsin-like-government-reforms/ "The study, conducted by the Center for Government Analysis (CGA), found that total expenditures by the State of California to finance salaries and pension benefits for State workers grew three times as fast as the per capita personal income of all Californians." http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/alarming-compensation-trends-for-state-workers/ Nationally, inflation adjusted per student education spending has ~quadrupled since 1960 and more than doubled since 1970. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_182.asp
navigio December 07, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The percentage of the population with diplomas and bachelors degrees has also more than doubled in that same amount of time.
David V. December 07, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I resent that insult, Michael.
Michael December 07, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Then start thinking for yourself and stop regurgitating Democrat propaganda. YOU stated that high taxes make for a great economy. I pointed out how foolish that makes YOU look. You Liberals sure can dish it out but you can't take when you're caught.
Doug V. December 07, 2012 at 09:35 PM
David V. certainly presents as a government employee. The measure clearly states that the TAX proceeds can be useed for ANY purpose.
Eric December 08, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Gregory, you're supporting your claims with biased information, which proves nothing. Are you really trying to pass of studies done by the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association as legitimate? Give me a break. You may as well say "this is true because my friend says so". Try supporting your claims with unbiased research. You do realize that Reaganomics increased our national debt from $900 billion to nearly $3 trillion during his tenure as President, right?
Eric December 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Calling someone that disagrees with your view a "fool" only points out your own ignorance.
Eric December 08, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Maybe you should rely less on what you "hear" and do some actual research. You've drawn a very general conclusion that peace officers, firemen, and teachers are corrupt. What exactly are you basing that on?
Eric December 08, 2012 at 12:52 AM
You're coming across as the fool, Michael. Apparently you can't even read the chart you've supplied. U-3 shows the unemployment rate in California at 10.8%. Your assertion that unemployment in CA is at 20% is incorrect since you've included part-time workers and those that are not actively looking for employment in that figure. To paraphrase Shakespeare: A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. You seem to fall into the former category.
Michael December 08, 2012 at 12:56 AM
You need to read (and comprehend) the U-6 number.
Eric December 08, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I've read it and completely understand it. The unemployment rate is measured under U-3, "total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (this is the definition used for the official unemployment rate)". Your direct quote is "CA unemployment is 20%", which is incorrect. How can you accuse someone of regurgitating propaganda when you yourself are skewing statistics to try to prove a point?
Gregory Brittain December 08, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Don’t say we didn’t warn you, #17 Brown’s and the Dems’ tax increase is retroactive to January 1, 2012. Passage of Proposition 30 set off euphoria and expectations of higher spending for public employees. The California Teachers’ Association (CTA) trumpeted: ‘California students and working families won a clear victory today as voters clearly demonstrated their willingness to invest in our public schools and colleges and also rejected a deceptive ballot measure aimed at silencing educators, other workers and their unions.’” But, don’t spend the money quite yet. “California State Controller John Chiang has announced that total state revenue for the month of November 2012 fell $806.8 million, or 10.8%, below budget.” “Democrats thought they could hammer ‘the rich’ by convincing voters to pass Proposition 30 to create the highest state income tax in the nation. But it now appears that high income earners have already ‘voted with their feet’ by moving themselves and their businesses out of state, resulting in over $1 billion shortfall in corporate and income taxes last month and the beginning of a new financial crisis.” http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/12/07/CALIFORNIA-STATE-BUDGET-GOES-OFF-THE-CLIFF Let’s all watch and learn from the effects of CA having by far the highest state income tax rates in America.
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