Banking on Burbank's Measure S success

Officials are hoping for a repeat for Measure S on the April 9 ballot. Only this time it's a different set of officials. And, for that matter a different measure.

The initiative, called Measure S — not to be confused with the $110-million school bond of the same name that voters approved last month — would subsidize trash and sewer services for low-income seniors and disabled people.

Residents have already been supporting the subsidies for more than 20 years through extra fees, but recent changes in state law suggest the city faces legal risks if it continues to offer the programs under the current structure.

If Measure S is approved with a two-thirds majority, customers would be taxed 2% of their trash and sewer bills, or roughly $10 to $15 a year. The tax won't increase trash and sewer bills, it just establishes a different method of collecting the funds for the program, according to the city.

Roughly 1,900 out of about 44,000 Burbank households benefit from the program, which saves eligible residents roughly $10 a month on sewer services, and about 50% — or between $15 and $25 a month, depending on trash-can size — on trash-hauling services.

Income levels for those who qualify range from $29,550 for a single-person household to $55,650 for a household of eight or more, according to City Atty. Amy Albano.

If the measure fails, the city would have to decide whether to continue the programs at an annual cost of $413,000 or scrap them completely.

The City Council voted 3-2 in September to endorse the measure, with Councilmen David Gordon and Gary Bric casting the dissenting votes.

[For the Record, April 4, 2013: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the council voted in October.]

While Gordon supported the assistance programs, he opposed the idea of providing incentives for using 32-gallon bins as opposed to 96-gallon ones.

"You're using taxation for social engineering," Gordon said at the time. "You're telling people what to do."

But in a statement of support, Mayor Dave Golonski and Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy said that by approving Measure S, "Burbank will be able to continue these much-needed assistance programs."

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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