On the SGVCOG Agenda, under Item 8.3, is something called the "L.A. County Flood Control District Water Quality Initiative." And the recommended action from Nick Conway for the SGVCOG's compliant membership is to approve the attached resolution of support for this "Initiative." You can view this item on the COG Agenda by clicking here and scrolling down towards the bottom.
Despite all the chipper language about clean water and protecting the beaches, what you'll be reading about there is actually a proposal for a new L.A. County wide property fee/tax assessment. This new tax, if approved by the concerned voters, would affect every property in the County.
While Conway tries to characterize the "average" yearly fee as being $54.00, if you review the supporting material it will probably by more like $85.00, with commercial properties, apartments etc. paying much higher amounts. Plus government parcels would also be assessed since they contribute to water runoff. So you would also be taxed even more on property you are taxed on already.
Here is how Conway attempts to sell this new tax to the membership at the SGVCOG:
The Los Angeles region faces critical and very costly stormwater and urban runoff water quality challenges. Often runoff containing trash, bacteria, metals and other pollutants drains into streams and waterways and ultimately to the ocean. Many water bodies in the Los Angeles region have been determined by the State and Regional Boards to not meet State and Federal water quality standards ...
The guilt trip goes on for quite awhile. If you need to see more, click here.
All of which is a very deceptive way of saying that you will be paying an entirely new property tax assessment for the familiar and ancient job known as sewage processing. The only difference being that this sewage comes from storm sewers instead of those other sewers.
And who knows, since you would then be paying a new property tax on storm sewage, maybe that could be turned into a new UUT category as well. If so, that would take our category count up to a state leading 10.
The process that is being loosed upon an unwitting public here is as follows. The SGVCOG will be among the first organizations in L.A. County to recommend approval for this new tax. Then it will go out to the individual cities where it will be put up for similar blessings by each City Council. All in the attempt to make this new tax seem popular and inevitable. And you can be assured that when this hits our City Council Agenda, it will be couched in lots and lots clean water and beach verbiage, but very little will be said about it being an entirely new property tax.
Oh, and if you think the $85 per home annual assessment isn't really all that high, and that the City Council of the City of Sierra Madre should approve this, please remember that it is a new tax. Once created it will go up. It is the only direction these things ever really go. Start low, aim high seems to be the process here.
If passed by the voters, this then approved new property tax would also create a myriad of new government commissions and agencies. Something that the Executive Director of the SGVCOG loves. There will also be the inevitable oversight boards as well, which will be called Watershed Area Groups, or "WAGS." Something that will provide yet more comfortable seats for local politicians and dignitaries to sit upon and receive a stipend.
This "election" will be a Prop 218 style vote where ballots are mailed to the targeted property owners only. And when these sheets are mailed out the tax proposal will be dressed up in some highly deceptive language. The "Los Angeles County Clean Water, Clean Beaches Protection Measure" is what it will be called.
I mean, who could ever vote against clean water and beaches? Of course, they could call it a new property assessment for processing water run-off sewage, but what fun would that be? It's not like you can expect these characters to tell the truth and call it what it really is, a brand new tax. That is not how they work.
Anyway, the SGVCOG and its Executive Director Nick Conway are working hard to keep this one way under the public radar. We thought we might try and make their job a little more difficult by talking to you about it here.
After all, that is what we do. Just ask the guys that wanted to raise your Sierra Madre utility taxes last week.
If you do not know who your representative on the SGVCOG Governing Board might be, and you are looking for somebody to complain to about this and everything else, you can access the entire roster by clicking here.