L.A. County supervisors vote to put proposed tax for parks on ballot

L.A. County supervisors vote to put proposed tax for parks on ballot
With downtown Los Angeles in the background, a woman runs near the Bowl Loop at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. (David McNew for the Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to place a new annual property tax on the November ballot to fund parks, recreation centers and other county facilities. 

The $23-per-parcel tax on properties would generate about $54 million a year and would replace Proposition A, a voter-approved, 1992 assessment that is set to expire in June 2015, said Parks and Recreation Director Russ Guiney.


Guiney said the county currently has approximately $134 million in unallocated funds for parks and other facilities.

"In two years that money will pretty much all be gone," he said. The new tax would take effect in mid-2015 and provide additional revenue for 30 years.

If approved by voters, the new flat tax would represent about a $10-a-year increase for the average single-family residence, which currently pays about $13 a year under the expiring assessment, Guiney said. The amount of the current assessment is calculated in part by formulas which take into account how much properties benefit from improvements funded by the levy.

For example, some properties, such as vacant lots, now are taxed as little as three cents a year, while commercial properties can be taxed as much as $10,000 a year, he said. The proposed new flat tax would be $23 on any property, regardless of its size.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich opposed putting the measure on the ballot, noting the proposal was added to the board's agenda in the last few days. 

"With two days' notice we are possibly placing a half-baked tax on the ballot that will impact taxpayers for years," he said.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also voted against putting the measure on the ballot. Thomas wanted a higher percentage of tax revenues to go toward parks and programs for needy communities.

Supervisors Gloria Molina, Zev Yaroslavsky, and Don Knabe voted to place the measure on the ballot.   

"We don't need to reinvent the wheel, we can build on what was done [in 1992]," Yaroslavsky said.

The measure, officially known as the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Youth/Senior Recreation, Beaches/Wildlife Protection Measure, requires a two-thirds approval of voters.

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