Culver City Observer -

Open Your Wallets, The Taxman Cometh


August 4, 2016

I took a look at the Culver City Council’s “proposed Parcel Tax” to help pay for our part of the unfunded, federal mandate from the 1972 Clean Water Act. I also watched the council meeting as they discussed whether to put this tax on the November ballot.

Culver City’s Tax Base

At last count (2015), there were 10,375 single-family residents in CC, about 1500 residential income properties, and 1,500 commercial-industrial properties.

So according to the city's proposed local parcel tax, the 10,375 homeowners would raise a little over a million dollars annually. The other million (or so) would be paid by the remaining 3,000 commercial property owners. Hmm…

Local Examples

Using my own properties as an example, my residence on Berryman Ave. in Sunkist Park sits on a 7,160 sq ft lot. If you divide that into the proposed $99 assessment, it comes to .014 (1.4 cents) per sq ft.

My commercial properties on Bankfield are both 2,500 sq ft lots. Each one is about .06 acres. If you multiply the proposed $1,096 per acre tax by .06 acres, you get about $65 for each parcel and when you divide the $65 by 2,500 sq ft, you get .026 (2.6 cents) per sq ft, which is almost double that of the residential square footage cost.

So it looks like commercial properties are actually being taxed at a higher rate (at least when measured sq ft-wise) than that of residential parcels.

If all parcels were taxed at the $1,096 per acre my residence parcel tax bill would be $180.

Precedent Setting?

Another change in this proposed parcel tax is that the usually accepted 100% exemption offered to fixed-income seniors—that was offered in the CCUSD’s Measure EE--would be now be replaced by only a 50% discount. Passing this, of course, would probably set a new precedent in local taxation. Also, those retired, fixed-income homeowners would be given another unfair added burden of resubmitting each and every year in order to continue to receive their exemptions.

Open Ended Tax?

Voters like to know how much and how long they will be paying. In 2009, when local voter/taxpayers voted on Measure EE for a commitment of $96 annually for the next five years they knew the beginning and ending dates of a tax.

35 years?

But there is no real time frame--no firm ending date--shown in this proposed parcel tax. There are just some vague statements about it raising a little over $2.0M annually and that the cost of our share in this county-wide billion-dollar project is about $125M.

How long will our part in this water project take—15-20-35 years? How long will this $99 tax obligation last? By not having an end date, this proposed tax is too vague!

We have to do our share of this multi-billion dollar county-wide project. It is federally mandated. It has to be done. We cannot get out of doing our share.

Direct Democracy

Instead of the council trying to figure out how much the public will stand and then playing the usual political cat-and mouse taxation game of only telling half-truths to local voters to get them to pass it, why doesn't the Council, just get right down to the real nitty-gritty question at hand and ask the local residents to directly vote on how quickly they want to get our share of this project done, including the bond tax rates involved for each timeline and then, tax us accordingly.

As It Should Be

This would have the taxpayers’ making the decision on how much we're being asked to pay and how long we would be willing to pay it.

George Laase


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