$1.8 Billion Bond to Help Homeless Placed on Ballot in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to place a $1.2 billion bond measure on the November ballot to raise funds for city programs dealing with homelessness. The measure asks voters to approve the issuance of the bonds over a 10-year period, and would be paid back through taxes based on a property’s assessed value.

The estimated tax rate would range from $4.50 to $17.50 per $100,000 of assessed value, every year, for as long as 28 years.

The bond would be the single largest amount ever approved by voters in Los Angeles, double the $600 million approved in the past to fund citywide security improvements. According to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, individual bonds would be issued only when projects surface, to avoid borrowing more than needed.

The City Council is meeting today to also discuss an alternative to the bond – a parcel tax measure that would cost taxpayers $90 million annually until 2027 to pay for homeless housing and services, including facilities that provide mental health services and drug and alcohol treatment. The parcel tax rate would be calculated based on square footage of improvements. The council potentially could place both the bond and the parcel tax on the ballot, and would have until August 12 to withdraw one of the measures if it so desired.

Recent polling has shown that taxpayers would be more likely to support the bond than the parcel tax.

City leaders estimate that the cost to provide adequate housing and services for the city’s nearly 27,000 homeless people would be $1.85 billion over the next decade.

A proposal for a countywide “millionaire’s tax” to fund homelessness programs was proposed by some county supervisors, but their proposal was not supported by Governor Jerry Brown, so the supervisors were unsuccessful in their attempt to have the governor and Legislature repeal the state’s ban on local income taxes. The county now is considering a sales tax, parcel tax, marijuana tax or something other form of raising revenue.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said that despite the county proposals, the city should move forward with its own plan. “We all agree the best approach should be a regional approach, but it does not look like that regional approach is going to occur,” he said. (Source: SoCal Patch, June 29.)

July 6, 2016

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