Los Angeles County locales pursue new road revenue

October 13, 2020

Keith Goble

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More than a dozen cities around Los Angeles County are seeking voter approval to raise more than $100 million annually for purposes that include road work.

From Lancaster and Lomita, Los Angeles County voters will decide whether to raise revenue via increases to sales tax rates. Increases in many locales would allow the local government to collect the state-allowed maximum rate for sales tax – 10.25%.

The measures specify new tax revenues would be applied for general purposes.

California law states that any specific tax must win two-thirds voter support for passage. Locales are able to get around the supermajority threshold by applying a sales tax increase for general purposes that include public safety, street maintenance, transportation services, and affordable housing.

The threshold to approve tax changes for general purposes is a simple majority.

What’s on the ballot?

Most of the 16 cities in Los Angeles County with tax measures are asking for sales tax increases between 0.25% and 0.75%. The rate hikes would be applied to taxable purchases made within each city.

These include:

  • Bell Gardens: Measure A would increase the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $2.33 million yearly for services and infrastructure that includes street maintenance.
  • Bellflower: Measure M would raise the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $4.5 million annually for needs that include street repairs.
  • Carson: Measure K would increase the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $12 million per year for needs that include street repairs and potholes.
  • Commerce: Measure VS would increase the 10% sales tax by 0.25% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $8 million annually for needs that include street repairs.
  • Culver City: Measure RE would raise the real property transfer tax by 0.45%. The increase is estimated to raise $6 million yearly for needs that include street maintenance.
  • Diamond Bar: Measure DB would increase the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $3.8 million per year for needs that include street maintenance.
  • Hawthorne: Measure UU would raise the locally controlled tax on utility bills by 2.5%. The increase is estimated to raise $3.2 million each year for needs that include repairs and maintenance to streets and road, and potholes.
  • Lancaster: Measure LC would increase the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $12 million per year for needs that include repairs to streets and potholes.
  • Lomita: Measure L would raise the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $1.3 million annually for needs that include repairs to streets and potholes.
  • Palmdale: Measure AV would increase the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $12 million each year for needs that include street repairs.
  • Pasadena: Measure P would renew an $18 million annual transfer from the city’s power company into the city’s general fund. The renewal would be used for needs that include street repairs.
  • Pico Rivera: Measure TT would raise the 10% transit occupancy tax for hotel visitors by 5% to 15%. The increase is estimated to raise an additional $100,000 annually for needs that include road and street maintenance.
  • San Fernando: Measure SF would increase the 10% sales tax by 0.25% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $1.1 million yearly for needs that include street improvements.
  • Signal Hill: Measure R would raise the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $5 million per year for needs that include repairs to streets and potholes.
  • South El Monte: Measure ES would increase the 10% sales tax by 0.25% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $1 million annually for needs that include street maintenance.
  • West Hollywood: Measure E would raise the 9.5% sales tax by 0.75% to 10.25%. The increase is estimated to raise $11 million per year for needs that include repairs to streets and potholes.

Pros and cons

Many Los Angeles County cities cite difficulties balancing their budgets annually for the pursuit of general tax increases. They add that rising pension and public safety expenses continue to reduce available funds.

Further, they say it is important to approve tax increases at the local level to ensure additional revenue does not get shared with the state or the county.

Critics say now is not the time to raise taxes. They cite economic struggles in the state related to the pandemic. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from California is available.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.