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City Hall’s Reputation Dooms Massive Tax Increases

LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and the members of the Herb Wesson led City Council must think we are absolute fools if they believe that we will vote to approve massive tax increases in November while they continue to neglect our City and trash our quality of life.

On Friday, the Rules Committee of the City Council will consider placing on the ballot a measure to authorize the issuance of $1 billion of bonds.  This money will be used to finance the building of more housing for the homeless.  

The County is also considering a yet to be determined $250 million tax to help fund its homeless initiatives, including, subject to Sacramento’s approval, a controversial “millionaire’s tax” of 0.5% on incomes north of $1 million. 

The County is also contemplating a $200 to $300 million parcel tax to fund the repair, operation, and creation of parks throughout the County, especially in underserved areas.  

At the same time, Metro will place on the ballot a permanent half cent increase in our sales tax to fund transportation related projects and operations.  This will increase our sales tax to a whopping 9½%. 

Over the next 40 years, this new Metro tax, along with the existing transportation taxes, will raise almost $300 billion, of which almost $25 billion will be kicked back to City Hall as part of the Local Return program.  

Despite a kickback from Metro of over $200 million this year, City Hall does not have a comprehensive plan to repair our lunar cratered streets and alleys, some of the worst in the country. 

Nor does City Hall have a detailed plan to repair our residential sidewalks in a timely manner. Rather, homeowners may have to wait up to 30 years pursuant to the court mandated Sidewalk Repair Program unless residents are prepared to pony up their own dough to pay for a substantial portion of the cost to fix their broken sidewalks and replant their trees.  

City Hall is also starving our Department of Recreation and Parks by hitting it up for almost $60 million a year as part of its “full recovery cost” program.  This represents a third of its General Fund charter mandated allocation.  As a result, our parks have deteriorated and the Department has embarked on an unpopular program to commercialize our parks. 

The City Council and the Jose Huizar led Planning and Land Use Management Committee are preparing to allow the campaign funding billboard industry to install intrusive digital billboards in many areas outside the designated sign districts.  But the light blight from these highly profitable digital billboards is an assault on our quality of life. 

The Mayor and the City Council are also selling us out to real estate speculators and developers by approving zoning variances for luxury residential skyscrapers that will result in increased congestion on our already clogged streets.  

There are also hot button issues involving small lot subdivisions, short term rentals (AirBnb), granny flats, mansionization, and the hillside communities that have inflamed the impacted residents.  

At the same time that the City is neglecting our infrastructure and failing to protect our neighborhoods, City Hall has no problem entering into a new contract with the City’s civilian unions that will eventually cost an extra $125 million a year. This will result in a structural deficit of over $100 million for the fiscal year ending 2020 as opposed to a previously anticipated surplus of $68 million, a swing of $169 million.  

And this does not include the impact of the “goal” of hiring 5,000 new City employees or the underfunding of the City’s two pension plans by at least $400 million a year as the City relies on an overly optimistic investment rate assumption of 7½%. 

The three ballot measures all have fatal flaws that will make it difficult for them to obtain the approval of two-thirds of the voters.  They are also the beginning of an onslaught of new taxes (including DWP, stormwater, and streets and sidewalks) that will have the cumulative impact of raising our taxes by at least $1.5 billion.  This is the equivalent of a 30% increase in our real estate taxes or a 3% increase in our sales tax to 12%. 

City Hall will put on a full court press to convince us to approve these taxes.  But City Hall’s reputation for neglecting our streets, sidewalks, and parks; for not respecting our quality of life; for selling out to the real estate and billboard industries; for its kowtowing to the City’s civilian unions; and for its unwillingness to really balance the budget will doom these ballot measures to failure. 

Who are the fools now? 

 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw