HUNTINGTON PARK : 3% Utility Tax Is Kept to Fund Police


The City Council voted last week to continue a 3% utility tax--with the blessing of residents who supported higher bills to pay for additional police officers.

The tax, added to water, electric and telephone bills, has helped stabilize the city’s general fund, officials said, and has allowed the Police Department to hire one sergeant, six officers, five jailers and two clerks.

Resident and business owner Sergio Palos said the tax has been a small price to pay for the protection of his family. “A 3% tax is well worth the investment for the safety of my five children. Everyone here is for it,” Palos said.


Although Palos has moved his business, Clockwork Printing Co., out of the city, his wife still owns a wedding invitation shop in Huntington Park.

Since the City Council initiated the tax in October, 1992, to keep the Police Department fully staffed, crime has dropped, Mayor Ric Loya said.

To thwart vehicle thefts and curtail fake-document vendors, the Police Department used tax revenues to institute a bicycle patrol in the central business district, said Police Chief Frank Sullivan.

Some of the funds also were used to open a substation at Salt Lake Park last month, he said. Although the police chief said it is difficult to track drug dealers and transient and gang activities, he has declared the park “clean.”

Since the tax was instituted, property values have increased by 8%, Loya said, and the city has fallen from “car theft capital of the nation” to fourth or fifth. Police have documented a 7% decrease in vehicle thefts in the city’s central business district since additional patrols hit the streets, Sullivan said. More than half of all vehicles stolen in the city are taken from the central business district, he said.

Utility tax revenues are also diverted into the city’s operating budget to offset losses from state “take-aways,” according to a report by Donald Jeffers, the city’s chief administrative officer. The tax generated about $101,000 a month over the last three months and constituted 10% of total general fund revenue, Jeffers said.


City officials predicted the tax could add $1.2 million to city coffers annually but have been unable to determine if that goal has been reached because of inconsistent revenues during the tax’s first few months, Jeffers said.

Huntington Park joins other Southeast-area cities keeping their general funds out of the red with utility taxes.

Maywood instituted a 5% utility tax in November, 1992, to build up its reserves and to replace property and sales-tax revenues lost in the recession, said Ron Lindsey, Maywood chief administrative officer. The tax, which brings in about $50,000 a month, has prevented Maywood administrators from laying off employees, he said.

Bell and Cudahy have 10% and 4% utility user taxes, respectively. Vernon, South Gate and Bell Gardens do not have utility taxes.