When a Tax is Levied ON Schools, They Protest

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Members of the school establishment generally support tax increases – unless a tax hits the schools. School officials, school boards and teachers’ associations eagerly support local tax increases and statewide ballot measures that raise taxes, which will increase revenue to schools. When a tax increase is leveled against schools and the revenue collected won’t come back to the schools, school officials often have a different perspective and say NO to the tax increase.

Such a scenario is playing out in Los Angeles County.

Tomorrow, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to support the county Flood Control Districts’ proposal to put a parcel charge on the next ballot for stormwater runoff treatment. The plan would generate $275 million with taxes averaging about $54 for a 5000 square foot parcel of property. However, larger properties will pay thousands of dollars.

Government buildings are not exempt from the assessment. The Los Angeles Unified School District owns nearly 4000 parcels of property and is facing a $4.6 million tax bill. The LAUSD filed a protest against the assessment.

The county supervisors will consider if enough protests were filed by the county’s 2.2 million parcel owners. If half the parcels affected filed a protest, the measure is dead. If not, the supervisors will consider whether or not to put the tax on the ballot.

The LAUSD doesn’t want to reduce its budget by $4.6 million for stormwater improvements. The schools also don’t want competition from any school tax the district would like to see on the ballot. The LAUSD wanted to put a parcel tax on the November 2012 ballot, but Governor Jerry Brown convinced the district to hold off, wanting to avoid competition for his Prop 30 tax increase.

Apparently, with all this competition for taxpayer dollars, pro-tax advocates have concluded that too many government agencies reaching into the taxpayers’ pockets could scuttle all the tax increase plans.

The Flood Control District argues that the collecting rain water and improving the stormwater runoff will keep the beaches clean and save money in the long run as the cost of water rises.

However, taxpayers concerned about the levy have built their protests around the fact that the mailing notifying the taxpayers about the assessment and protest procedure appeared to be more like junk mail than an official government document, which many taxpayers threw away. Neither did the proposal list the projects that the assessment would pay for.

How the supervisors will respond to the protests filed by homeowners, business property owners, churches, and, yes, schools, will be settled tomorrow.

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