Today the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is holding a hearing on a proposed $275 million annual fee that few taxpayers are aware of, but will have a significant financial implication for all public and private property owners throughout the County. Several Chamber members have already indicated that the new fee on their property would cost them more than 1 million dollars per year.
The "Clean Water, Clean Beaches" mail-in ballot measure would levy a new mandatory parcel fee on all L.A. County property owners — both commercial and residential. The fee would be used to pay for local and regional projects and services aimed at improving water quality and public health by way of storm water treatment and the mitigation of urban runoff pollution. All government-owned properties including schools, parks and hospitals would also be subject to the fee.
The fee is intended to help cities in L.A. County comply with new permitting requirements recently imposed by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. The proposal thus far has lacked the proper process for public input and will likely face broad opposition if presented to property owners in its current state. A lack of feedback from property owners has resulted in a dearth of transparency and accounting standards that the public demands for a fee of this scale, including:
- Specificity about projects or services to be funded;
- An audit and sunset clause to ensure that the fees collected are meeting intended goals;
- A fee reduction for property owners who already pay for on-site capture and treatment of storm water runoff;
- A clearly articulated appeal process for incorrectly assessed fees; and
- A provision to allow rental property owners to pass the fee or a portion of the fee through to their tenants.
If placed on the ballot by the County Board of Supervisors, a mail-in special election will be held in mid-2013 with limited awareness and input from the average property owner. The Chamber and a coalition of our members and other business associations have asked that the election be postponed until the concerns of property owners have been adequately addressed.
To increase awareness, the Chamber has invited the L.A. County to present an update on this proposal at ourEnergy, Water & Environmental Sustainability Council this Friday, Jan. 18, 9 a.m. We encourage you to attend, learn and voice your opinion about this critically important issue for citizens and businesses in L.A. County — $275 million deserves your input.
And that's The Business Perspective.
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