August 2, 2010

Property Tax Rate Comparisons in LA County Cities 2010

This was a very interesting chart from the LA Times this week. (you can sort using column headers at the top) What was most interesting was that the cities with wealthier residents (and likely bigger more expensive homes) had lower property tax rates than poorer cities. The reason the LA Times likely ran this story was there seemed to be a correlation between Bell's property tax rate and its exorbitant salaries of elected and appointed officials. Bell of course is ranked no. 2, second most costly rate in the city. (City of Industry may be the hot seat next as its ranked no. 1!!) But what LAAG found more interesting was that Lakewood was ranked 47th out of all 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles county. By no means anywhere near the lowest. Very interesting to note that city of Bellflower is ranked 88th (the cheapest in the county) and city of Cerritos is 85th out of 88 incorporated cities in the county. City of Artesia is 84th. All three have much lower tax rates than Lakewood but yet very similar cities in terms of size and demographics. All also have LASD coverage and contracts. Why the difference? Very interesting indeed. Don't count on Lakewood city hall to illuminate any of this mystery for you in any detail if at all. While most cities are responding to the Bell debacle with publications of salary and other data on their website, Lakewood remains totally silent (as of this posting), hoping that all the questions and news focus on "questionable" city practices just dies away....before anyone starts digging around and asking hard questions.

Of course the Times story notes that this chart only includes figures off the county property tax bill which includes all those "nice" little add ons ("voted indebtedness" and "direct assessments") which are not based on lot size or Proposition 13 reductions. In Lakewood these can be over 500.00 per year per parcel/bill as they are not affected by Proposition 13 limits or lot size or property value. How nice!

It would be very interesting to see a comparison of all local utility costs such as water, trash, sewer, fire and police costs. Hopefully we will see something like this in the future from the Times, along with a comparison of all city salaries and personnel costs by city. For example it would be nice to see what the total payroll costs are in Bellflower as related to Lakewood, averaged out per resident.

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