.. r of opponents say it is just plain bad law . Others objected to the voting rights it gives to all property owners, whether or not they are US citizens.
With respect to the fiscal effect and the resultant level of services, the legislative analyst (who is neutral) brought forth the overall expected loss of revenue to local governments at $100 million plus a year. Local officials believe that the amount will more likely exceed $300 million per annum. (Morain, Slater, LA Times: 11/7/96). These are just numerical figures with little argument associated with them.
However, when put in perspective for individual municipalities, one can see that the impact of lost revenues could cause serious budget problems. In Buena Park, the City Council said that “general fees for emergency services would be eliminated, threatening the safety of communities.” (Wright, LA Times: 10/23/96). In Brea, the City Council estimated that Prop 218 would cost the city $500,000 a year. (Pope, LA Times: 10/31/96). In La Palma, the loss may also be about $500,000 which is 10% of their annual budget. Prop 218 threatens LA County’s $9MM/yr levy for librar! ies and Inglewood’s $1.4MM/yr special tax for police.
(Morain, Slater, LA Times: 11/7/96). In Ventura County, a plan to establish an assessment for the library system has been eliminated. For the County to hold a special election, which it is still considering, the cost has been estimated to be $235,000. Assessments for various Ventura County cities are impacted: Thousand Oaks – $2.3MM/yr for lighting and landscaping; Moorpark – $900,000/yr for lighting and landscaping; Ventura – $850,000/yr for street lighting maintenance; Simi Valley – $670,000/yr for landscape maintenance; Ojai – $130,000/yr for street lighting and downtown maintenance; and Camarillo – $88,000/yr for landscape maintenance.
Ventura County is also concerned because Prop 218 significantly impacts fees used for flood control and landslide emergencies. (Lozano, LA Times: 11/10/96). In northern California, an example of Prop 218’s impact is the loss of $709,000 from a $2.7MM budget for the North Tahoe Fire ! Protection District. (Bizjak, Young, Sacramento Bee: 9/1/96). Another impact on municipal budgets, as well as the education quality of our school systems, is the requirement that assessments are levied against public property. If upheld in the courts, this will take money away from school budgets and the educational process.
(No on Prop 218: 10/96). Of major concern on the fiscal side is the impact Prop 218 will have on municipalities’ ability to finance their capital needs and on the possible detrimental impacts on credit quality. The municipal bond industry and the three major rating agencies (Moody’s, S, and Fitch) have all expressed a great deal of concern with respect to the impact of Prop 218. According to Stephen Heaney of Stone & Youngberg (one of California’s major underwriters of municipal bonds) in his testimony before a State Senate committee in September “The impact on credit quality will be significant and will be negative.” (Young, Sacramento Bee: 9/25/96).
The California Society of Municipal Securities Analysts stated “This could limit severely financial flexibility for many local governments and .. leave less money available to pay debt service on municipal bonds.” (Ingram, LA Times: 10/19/96). Another major argument against Prop 218 is in the law’s structure. While the thrust of the Proposition is not necessarily disagreed with, the manner in which it goes about accomplishing it is.
(Editorial, SF Chronicle: 10/31/96). Others have no such affinity with the essence of the Proposition and strongly object to its structure. The City of Buena Park believes “it shifts control on assessments to people who control the largest amounts of property, whoever or wherever they may be. It disenfranchises small property owners.” (Wright, LA Times: 10/23/96). Officials in Brea believe the law is flawed because “it would grant voting power to property owners and noncitizens based on the size of their land holding and would exempt renters from voting on such issues.” (Pope, LA Times: 10/31/96).
Conclusion As stated earlier, the people of California have spoken. Proposition 218 is now approved. Whether or not is stands up to court challenges remains to be seen. Fox’s argument with respect to the modified nature of assessment districts is true. Assessment Districts have been providing capital improvements in California since 1911 (similar legislation authorized different forms of assessment districts in 1913 and 1915).
Community Facilities Districts (commonly called Mello-Roos Districts after their legislative sponsors) have been around since the 1980’s. Both of these districts were designed with proportionate benefits to be determined for property and proportionate benefits assessed. While the courts have philosophically determined that general services benefit property, they also serve non-property interests. Fox’s argument is based on the principal of fairness.
On the other hand, Prop 13 and Prop 218 went too far. We require services from local government but we do n! ot enable them to pay for them. Additionally, it is inherently unfair for a simple majority to require that a super majority make future decisions. This actually enables a minority interest to control events while the majority suffers. I hope a future proposition goes before the electorate which adds to the State Constitution the requirement that when a proportion of the electorate is required to change laws or add taxes or approve measures in future legislation, for such legislation to be approved that percentage of the electorate must vote for the measure. At least in this way the requirements are on a level playing field.
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