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LA County to Consider Tax Hike For Clean Water Programs

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

A Los Angeles County supervisor today 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 clean-up 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 atax 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 today. "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.

Nat. P December 05, 2012 at 05:26 PM
On the last page of the letter is a protest letter you can send to Board of Supervisors. How do we know if this money will be used for clean water run off. California is taxing us to death. I don't know about other cities but Covina already charges it's business a "Run Off Fee". I guess I will be double taxed.......nice!!!
CH December 06, 2012 at 04:52 AM
There is NO cleanup. They want the money to cover their ineptness at management! I have had to work with these characters in the District as an outside contractor and they couldn't find their A** with both hands and specific directions. The managers aren't responsible to anyone, except themselves. They can bury any and all mistakes, and they do.
Sparks December 07, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Send in a no vote!! Funny this came in the same day as the notification of our water rate increases.....again!
gsuburban December 09, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I agree with everyone, nothing will change. Just like Glendora water, our base rates have increased from about $10 per billing to now about $60 and that is without a drop of water. It's more after 42 units which they changed recently from 45 units in the name of increased rates. Units are not rates, they are consumption so, they basically felt it necessary to loot the public for 3 units so when we exceed the 42, the surcharge fee's take over. Anyway, this "clean water" is all b.s. They do the same all the time, invent scare tactics such as, we'll cut the police, fire, school, library, parks etc if we cannot get a tax increase. In my book, go ahead, get rid of it all, we hardly need all that when times are saying there's no revenue.
gsuburban December 09, 2012 at 01:47 AM
http://www.sbsun.com/breakingnews/ci_22153163/fontana-water-co-bills-going-down-about-16

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