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LCF City Council honors Gladiators, learns residents may be missing out on property tax break

LCF City Council honors Gladiators, learns residents may be missing out on property tax break
La Cañada Gladiators Junior Midgets football team members were recognized by City Council members Tuesday for winning the San Gabriel Junior All-American Football Championship for a fifth consecutive year. (Photo by Sara Cardine)

Here are some of the highlights from the Jan. 16 regular meeting of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council:

Gladiators declared champs for fifth season

La Cañada Gladiators Junior Midgets football team members were celebrated during a presentation Tuesday at the La Cañada City Council meeting for winning the San Gabriel Junior All-American Football Championship for a fifth consecutive year after an undefeated season.

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Kevin Lacey, president of the Gladiators, said the team defeated the Pico Rivera Dons 30-0 to win the Nov. 19 championship game at Walnut High School. In the past five years, the team has lost just a single game, for an overall record of 52-1.

"We've never seen a team like this in any other city," Lacey told a packed room of players, parents and well-wishers. "For the same group of kids for five years to accumulate such a record and do it so well is an unprecedented achievement."

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He attributed much of the Gladiators' success to team coach Jeremy Cisneros for stressing the importance of learning life lessons over wins and losses, and sportsmanship over championships.

La Cañada Mayor Mike Davitt congratulated the team and presented players with certificates of recognition, before council members posed with the students for a team photo.

"The Gladiators program has been in this community for many years, and the city is proud of it," he said. "Congratulations again on a great season."

More than 1,550 LCF homeowners fail to claim property tax exemption

Mayor Mike Davitt presented a proclamation officially declaring January 2018 as "Homeowner's Exemption Awareness Month," welcoming to the podium David Gevorkyan, a special assistant to L.A. County Assessor Jeffrey Prang.

Gevorkyan explained Prang's commitment to raising awareness of various property assessment exclusions, exemptions and tax-savings programs available to L.A. County residents by the state.

Among them, a homeowner's exemption reduces the assessed values of residents' properties by $7,000 annually, for a savings of about $70 per year on property taxes. Residents must own the property and use it as a primary residence to qualify for the reduction.

More than 435,000 homeowners have failed to claim the exemption, including about 1,550 La Cañada residents, Gevorkyan said.

"Over 25% of the total number of homeowners in the city do not take advantage of this reduction," he told council members. "That's bypassing over $108,000 in annual savings citywide."

To download an exemption form, visit assessor.lacounty.gov/message-to-homeowners and click on the "Homeowner's Exemption Form" bar on the left. The exemption, indicated on property tax forms as "HOX," stays with a property until it is sold.

2018-19 Community Development Block Grant projects approved

City Council members approved the continuation of two Community Development Block Grant programs that offer grants to low- or moderate-income homeowners for needed residential rehabilitation improvements or to help with costs associated with connecting homes to a sewer system.

Staffer Lisa Brancheau explained the city would receive $59,485 from the county's Community Development Commission, which can be applied to the city's unallocated fund balance from previous years of $17,595. The combined amount, $77,080, will be offered for eligible applicants, with 70% being dedicated for home rehab and 30% for sewer-connection assistance.

Brancheau explained the program that helps homeowners come into compliance with municipal code is more popular, as a good number of people qualify for the income designation. The owners of homes still unconnected to a sewer system tend to earn more than the requirement, which has caused a decline in interest in that program, Brancheau said.

Moderate income for a one-person residence is $50,500, while low-income is $31,550. For two-person homes, those amounts are $57,700 and $36,050, respectively.

For more information, call (818) 790-8881 or visit lcf.ca.gov/permits-and-licenses/community-development-permits.

Online permitting system could debut in 2018

La Cañada residents and builders could take advantage of a new online permitting system as soon as October, city staffer Arabo Parseghian told City Council members.

The new cloud-based permitting system will take online credit card payments and send email notices to contractors and applicants whenever there's a comment or question, or when the approval process has been completed.

Last June, council members approved a $422,343 three-year contract with Texas-based Tyler Technologies. Parseghian explained the city was in the "build and validate" phase, working with the company to design and test the functionality of the portal.

Sometime this summer, city staff will be trained to use the software and vet the system before it's made available to the public. After a period of data conversion, it will be made available online.

"It will dramatically change the way we do things," Parseghian said.

City Manager Mark Alexander said an online portal will also help reduce staff time spent on public records requests, mainly filed by businesses looking for information on particular properties.

"They'll be able to go onto the system and get [the information] themselves," he said.

Twitter: @SaraCardine

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