The Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District (RPOSD) is proposing that the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors place a bond measure on the November 2016 ballot to continue funding park and recreation projects throughout Los Angeles County. The City has historically benefited from previous parks assessments and would likely benefit from this one. However, through some study, the proposed allocation distribution raises issues over fiscal equity to the communities where the tax would be levied. Due to these concerns, staff recommends the Community Services Commission recommend the City Council support the proposed measure with modifications.
However, the outcome was not what staff had hoped for. The Community Services Commission recommended that the City Council completely reject the entire thing. Outright. And their vote was unanimous.
There are some good reasons for this. The first being it is too soon after Measure UUT. The community already voted to give City Hall the additional moneys it claimed it needed to do things like take care of the town's parks. Or so they had been led to believe. To ask people to come up with additional dough for services many believe they had already paid for was not seen as the wisest thing to do right now.
It could raise some unfortunate questions.
Another reason was the financial unfairness of what the county was proposing to do. Here is how this was described in the Staff Report (link):
While the results of the Assessment showed needs in all communities, the proposed allocation distribution raises issues over fiscal equity to the communities where the tax would be levied. As currently structured, Sierra Madre residents would be taxed annually approximately $257,000 presuming that the $0.03 per square foot levy is adopted. Yet, the City of Sierra Madre would only be guaranteed to receive annually 29% or about $75,000 (the combined total of Grant Category 1 and M&S category) according to County Staff presentations.
Apparently there are a few cities that are not happy about how these bond moneys are to be allocated, and they don't see the point in having to pay more than they could ever hope to receive. Having their park money redistributed to some of the poorer communities among us just isn't cutting it with some. There has been far too much of that sort of thing already.
But there is another reason the CSC rejected the entire so-called "Parks Bond Measure" outright, and that is the phoniness and dishonesty of the County's appeal. Here is how Commissioner Pat Alcorn put that in a comment posted here yesterday.
This is a much bigger issue and can't be discussed intelligently with only a 4 day notice, much less be able to make an informed decision. This proposed measure, while it is very worthwhile to have funding for parks and facilities, misses the mark on many levels. What worries me is the polling of 1,010 likely voters shows that 69% would definitely, probably or lean toward voting yes in favor of a ballot measure, and that number would increase with "education." That education emphasized clean water, keep open spaces, keep our kids safe, and water conservation. Who doesn't want our kids safe and have clean water? That funding is lopsided and not beneficial to the foothill communities is only the main objection.
Of course everyone loves their children, likes clean water and enjoys open spaces. But what does any of that have to do with floating a bond that rips Sierra Madre's taxpayers off as badly as this one will? This has a lot less to do with "education" and more about slick LA County taxation propaganda designed to help increase an already massive take.
Couple this with Measure R, a sales tax ballot measure on the ballot this fall designed to fatten the coffers of erstwhile 710 Tunnel building Metro, and you can see that the Board of Supervisors is hardly interested in doing a park bond issue alone.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the entire budget for Los Angeles County, as administered by its Board of Supervisors, is a massive $28.5 billion dollars (link). Up $282 million from the year before, it is a level of spending that can only be achieved by raising taxes. Like perhaps with this Park Bond effort? At least in part?
Here is how that unhappy news was shared with us last April 11:
Los Angeles County officials on Monday released a proposed $28.5-billion budget for the next fiscal year -- a plan that would boost overall spending by about 1% but does not spell out how shortfalls in the coroner’s office and some other key programs will be solved.
In presenting the budget, county Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai said leaders are committed to "lifting the quality of life for all of our residents," but are "challenged by the demand for county services that far exceeds the available financing sources."
The proposed spending plan is an increase of $282 million from the year before, offset by projected increases in property taxes and other revenues. It includes $99 million for the county’s new homelessness initiative and $19 million for wage increases the Board of Supervisors passed last year for in-home care workers.
It also includes $11 million for physical and mental health services to be provided by the newly created Office of Diversion and Reentry, which is focused on moving low-level offenders with mental health and substance abuse issues out of county jails and into treatment programs.
In case anyone is wondering where some of the money for that sudden proliferation in sober houses has been coming from, that source apparently is you.
Last night the Community Services Commission recommended just saying NO. They are to be commended for having shown the courage and integrity it took to do so.
It will be interesting to see how the City Council will react to their recommendation. And as it stands now that wait will not be a long one. According to the most recent City Managers Report (link), it all happens next Tuesday.
Not that anybody was rushing into this or anything. Four days notice and all.
Last item, of course. Tax hikes most often are.