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City Budget Raises Prop. 218 Concerns

As city officials begin considering a budget for fiscal 1997-98, some residents are questioning whether the $140-million spending plan conforms with Proposition 218, approved last fall by voters statewide.

The November ballot measure limits the ability of local governments to raise taxes by requiring residents to approve fee increases and to designate specifically how the money is to be used.

Santa Ana is violating that proposition in a number of ways, said Ed McKie, president of the French Court Neighborhood Assn. The Sanitation fund, for example, pays for seven officers to ticket vehicles blocking sanitation trucks, but the ticket revenue goes into the general fund, he said.

City Atty. Joseph Fletcher said Proposition 218 does not apply to the tickets because those fines are not property assessments.

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Sanitation fund fees also are being used to cover $500,000 in hazardous-material cleanup costs a year, as well as $742,000 in increased graffiti and weed abatement and tree costs, McKie said. McKie said that too is forbidden by Proposition 218 because the money is not directly related to sanitation fees.

But Fletcher said sanitation fees do cover those costs.

“You may not have a graffiti problem at your house today,” he said, “but we are expending those funds every day in the city.”

This year’s general-fund budget is up from last year’s $124-million fund, due in part to an increase in fees from the new city jail, sales taxes and vehicle license fees.

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The City Council’s budget session begins at 6 p.m. Monday at 22 Civic Center Plaza. Information: (714) 647-6520.


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