City officials are set to discuss a stormwater measure Tuesday that would levy a new tax against most L.A. County residents.
The fee doesn’t have a purpose or direction, but it could mean thousands of dollars for nonprofits, businesses and even multi-family homes, a county official said Friday.
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“The fee is coming down as a result of the (water quality) standards,” said Edel Vizcarra, planning deputy for Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who repeatedly has warned residents of the “fee” that has been suggested by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.
“What the district is telling us is that there are high levels of pollutants and metals in the water,” Vizcarra said. “But it’s very difficult to point to one area -- (Antonovich) feels that it’s a state issue, not a local issue.”
Santa Clarita City Council members are set to discuss the fee, which Councilwoman Marsha McLean equated to “double taxation,” at Tuesday’s meeting.
Los Angeles city and county collectively spends approximately $300 million each year to stay in compliance with state water standards that have become increasingly more stringent each year, according to county officials.
One of the bigger issues with the fee, which Antonovich says is actually a tax, is that the flood district hasn’t identified what the revenue would pay for, Vizcarra said.
"We don’t even know what is going to be built yet,” he said. “We haven’t identified any of the projects, yet we’d be taxing people for something that may or may not occur.”
Due to procedures set in place by Proposition 218, a majority of 2.2 million affected - 1.1 million residents plus one, according to Vizcarra -- would need to protest the fine in order to stop the fee, an unlikely scenario despite the problems associated with it.
If this doesn’t occur by Jan. 15 when a hearing is scheduled, then residents would likely see the fee on a mail-in ballot in March, Vizcarra said. That would be the last chance residents would have to stop the fee, which could then also be passed by a simple majority.
While the fee places a cap on single-family residences, schools and nonprofits are not exempt. Phyllis Ishisaka, superintendent of Glendale Unified, which is considered a smaller district, expressed concern that the fee collectively would cost her schools about $250,000.
A church estimated its cost at about $4,000, and big-lot stores such as Target or Costco could be hit with fees that would cost around $11,000 to $12,000, Vizcarra said.
The supervisor has asked for time for alternatives, but in the meantime, the City Council is expected to direct staff to file a protest on behalf of all properties owned in the city.
“One of the things (we’re looking at is) that maybe there’s a way to find one-time money so that people don’t have to be taxed,” Vizcarra said. “But we don’t know what the project is. And when you have environmental groups taking issue with taxes for environmental purposes, then you know there’s a problem.”
Article Source: Newsroom 
Author: Perry Smith