August 23, 2008

Remember this little gem from 2002? You will now..

Like it or not property taxes will go up in LA county this year due to a little remembered Measure B passed in Nov. 2002 that basically gave the County Board of Supervisors a blank check and a way to bypass Proposition 13's limits on property taxes. When will the voters learn? These cute little measures passed in good times (using the typical scare tactic ads that ER care will dry up if you dont pass it) come back to haunt voters years later when they can least afford it. Well voters, the next time you pass a measure like this, think ahead a few years. And remember its not the cost to the taxpayers that is the real rub...its the waste of tax dollars built into the system that is the problem. To read the arguments pro and con on the 2002 Measure B (to refresh your recollection) click here

EGP News Service!id!%3E&pageid=1270

Property taxes in Los Angeles County were raised last Tuesday, Aug. 12 in an effort to bail out the Department of Health Services.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the increase of Measure B taxes by 0.0072 cents per square foot of improved property to raise an estimated $45.2 million annually, which will be used to help alleviate the department’s massive budget deficit.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich cast the sole dissenting vote, though Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe both expressed frustration that the department’s request for more tax money was not accompanied by a plan for eliminating its structural deficit.

“To me this just represents a shell game. It’s not really dealing with the systemic issues with the department,” Knabe said. “You still have not given us a deficit management plan.”

Health Services faces a budget deficit of $93.7 million over the coming fiscal year, which is projected to balloon to $484.9 million the following year due to federal and state funding cuts as well as expected rollover of debt, according to a DHS memo.

“I think Supervisor Knabe’s frustration is shared to one extent or another by all of us, but that doesn’t change... the fact that in a global sense, something needs to be done,” Yaroslavsky said. “We need this now. We need this in this fiscal year.”

Faced with the possibility that two of the four county-run hospitals might have to close their doors, Measure B was approved by voters in 2002 to raise funds for the county’s beleaguered health care network.

Measure B previously taxed improved property at a rate of 0.03 cents per square foot, generating $142 million annually, according to a report from county Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka.

With the tax hike, the owner of a 1,500-square-foot home or business will wind up paying $10.80 more annually, or $55.80 total per year.

Non-reimbursed trauma and emergency costs at county hospitals have increased about 11 percent annually--totaling $103.3 million--since 2003. Continual funding shortfalls have been plugged with one-time funding allocations that have since dried up, leaving a structural deficit in their wake, Fujioka said.

County officials will direct $36.8 million of the money generated annually through the tax hike to offset the costs of unreimbursed trauma and emergency services, with the remaining $8.4 million to be devoted to non-county trauma hospitals and bioterrorism preparedness.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | | Lakewood, CA
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