Did You Return Your Clean Water Tax Hike Ballot? The Deadline Is Tuesday

County property owners recently received mailers on a proposed tax measure to cover costs for improving water quality and reducing pollution.

Editor's Note: If you wish to vote against the fee, the deadline to submit your ballot is 9:30 a.m., Jan. 15. Follow this link to directions on the mailer. If you wish to vote for the fee, no action is required.

A Los Angeles County supervisor has urged people to learn about a proposed fee to pay for clean water programs.

"This is a tax increase proposal,'' Supervisor Michael Antonovich said, warning that the piece looks like junk mail. "Don't throw it away.''

The Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure tells property owners how much each would pay annually and a form for objecting to the idea.

A typical single-family homeowner would pay about $54 on average and condominium owners $20 or less, according to Phil Doudar, project manager for the initiative. About 90 percent of parcel owners would likely pay less than $100, though large commercial property owners could pay thousands of dollars.

If approved, property owners would be charged an annual fee to cover costs associated with improving water quality and reducing pollution from urban runoff.

Department of Public Works Director Gail Farber warned earlier this year that county waterways are choked with trash, infection-causing bacteria, toxic chemicals, lead, copper and other metals, oil and grease.

As proposed, the measure would raise about $276 million annually to be split between Los Angeles County's Flood Control District, nine watershed areas set up to manage cleanup projects and the rest of the cities that make up the county.

The Flood Control District spent an estimated $340 million to control pollutants in fiscal year 2010-11, according to Farber, who has estimated the cost of complying with existing water-quality regulations to be in the billions of dollars.

But Antonovich and Supervisor Don Knabe objected to what they called a tax on residents, saying funding should come from the federal or state government.

Antonovich and Knabe voted against the proposal in July, arguing that it should be put to voters in a future election rather than to property owners via a mail-in ballot.

"It really is disingenuous,'' Knabe said. "Clearly the intent of  this piece of mail is to look like junk mail.''

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who backs the measure -- the result of years of consensus building between municipalities and environmentalists -- disagreed, saying it looks much like rate increase notices from local utilities.

The notice is just the first step in the approval process.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 15 during the board's regular weekly meeting at 9:30 a.m.

If a majority of property owners protest the fee in writing before the end of that meeting, the fee will not be imposed.

If a majority do not object, a ballot would be mailed to property owners. And if a majority of ballots returned are in favor of the measure, the fee would be charged.

More information is available at www.lacountycleanwater.org.

Rick H. December 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I was lucky that a co worker showed me his so when I got home I knew what to look for or I probably would have thrown it out with the rest of the junk flyers. I doubt it will really do any good. I am sure they are counting on most people throwing this out so less protests will get sent in.They will use that to get it approved. @William: That is horrible. That is a 300% increase!!! Truly disgusting. I read that the school districts are against this as they would see a larger increase as they are larger properties and they already have slashed budgets. Let's hope it fails to get passed.
N. C. December 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM
It should fail to pass by the simple fact that it was not presented to us, the property tax payers who this will impact, in a more "open and obvious" way. Instead it was presented in a throw-away junk-mail looking flyer. It should fail strictly because of how we were notified and not having been given proper notice and the chance for EVERYONE to respond. I would like to see a bunch of us show up on January 15th to say so....but we know how most of the public is. Apathy runs rampant. We will be paying higher taxes....for the simple fact that most people don't want to get involved. Most people wouldn't even send that tear-off section back in protest even if they knew about it. It's just the way it is....sorry to say.
Marcia Hanscom January 14, 2013 at 06:18 PM
AND - if you are available, it is really important for MANY, MANY people to show up at the County Board of Supervisors' meeting tomorrow morning for this item and speak up in person. Renters don't even get a "vote" - yet the costs of this additional tax WILL be passed on to the renters. AND - there is nothing that guarantees these funds will be spent in ways that will actually do anything to "clean" the water. Instead, massive industrial habitat alterations will be paid for, to engineering companies that are contributing to the groups supporting this tax. Check out Malibu Lagoon - you will see the result. Nature suffers. We pay for it. I object.
Lawsuit January 15, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Can you spell "Corruption" These supervisors need to be put in jail.
PM January 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM
We really need to post the names of the supervisors who voted for this to be sent out to us. Their names should be EVERYWHERE. So that they understand that we know who they are and they will NOT get our votes. Anyone know who should be on this list?????


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