Taxes, Bonds, Fees: November Ballot Has Plenty of Them

If you think living in Los Angeles, and California as a whole, is already expensive, take a good look at the November ballot which comes filled with plenty of new taxes and bonds that could make a pretty dent in your wallet.

Apart from the 17 statewide propositions, there are extra ones for the County and the City of Los Angeles that ask you directly for more money to deal with a wide range of issues. Some propose new taxes or will trigger new ones if approved.

Property Tax Hikes

Locally, LA city and county voters will be asked to approve two bond measures, both of which require property tax hikes in order to pay off the bonds.

Homelessness Bond: Known as HHH, it was placed on the ballot by the Los Angeles City Council. This measure seeks the approval of $1.2 billion in bonds to finance the construction of housing for the city’s homeless — now estimated at nearly 27,000 (47,000 in the county and about 7,335 here the San Fernando Valley) — as well as the construction of other facilities aimed at alleviating Los Angeles’s homelessness crisis.

If approved by voters, the measure would generate a property tax increase of about $9.84 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Community College Bond: Called CC, it was placed on the ballot by the Los Angeles Community College District and asks voters to approve $3.3 billion in bonds that would finance the construction of new community college facilities and the renovation of existing ones.

If approved, the measure would add between $12.50 to $15 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

“Los Angeles Community College District doesn’t deserve your trust,” writes G. Rick Marshall, Chief Financial Officer, California Taxpayers Action Network that opposes this measure.

“Since 2001, voters have approved $5.7 billion in bonds to rebuild all nine campuses. The District promised to ease classroom crowding, make buildings safer and add new technology — all with stringent financial oversight. Instead, millions were wasted by bad planning, frivolous spending, shoddy workmanship, nepotism and poor oversight.”

Marshall gives the example of Valley College, where a theatre complex was renovated for $3.4 million, then demolishedt o build a new theatre complex.

Parks Tax: Measure A was placed on the ballot by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. It seeks to generate $94.5 million annually for both establishing new parks and upgrading old ones throughout the county.

If voters approve, it would add a new property tax of 1.5 cents per square foot, or about $22.50 per year for the owner of a 1,500 sq. foot home.

“The politicians say they don’t have money to fund parks. But the real story is that the money they have has not been spent wisely. Politicians have received millions of dollars in new state money for parks, but due to mismanagement and red tape much of this was never spent,” say opponents, including the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

Transportation Tax: Measure M was placed on the ballot by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and would generate funds to expand, repair and improve the county’s transportation infrastructure through a .5 percent sales tax increase that would be in place indefinitely.

That means it would raise Los Angeles’s sales tax to 9.5 percent, making it the eighth highest city sales tax in the nation — higher than New York and San Francisco.

MTA contends the measure would cost county residents an average of $24 per year and would generate about $860 million per year for street repairs, highway improvements and new rail construction.

Several cities, including Carson, Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Ranchos Palos Verdes and Signal Hill filed a lawsuit — rejected by the courts — claiming Measure M’s ballot summary language was incomplete and misleading. They also claimed that there won’t be an equal distribution of funds and projects, where those in the western and northern regions of the county will take priority.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel ruled that Measure M is not an initiative and therefore did not require the ballot language specifics sought in the lawsuit.

According to Metro’s own figures, average weekday boardings numbered 1,278,645 in July 2016, compared with 1,404,627 in July 2014.

Statewide Taxes

Cigarette Tax: If you smoke, get ready to pay more for that habit. Proposition 56 would charge an additional $2 tax on every carton of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products containing nicotine in the state.

If voters approve, the tax is expected to generate more than $1 billion per year, most of which would be directed towards health care providers and smoking prevention programs.

Marijuana Taxes: If your preference is to smoke a more “natural” product, this tax will affect you. Proposition 64 asks voters to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California and levy a 15 percent tax on all marijuana sales. It would also impose a cultivation tax on growers of $9.25 per ounce.

It is estimated the measure would generate over $100 million per year in new revenue to be use for marijuana related enforcement and substance abuse prevention programs.