County supervisors send unpopular storm water clean up fee back

Faced with widespread public opposition, Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday sent a proposed parcel fee to combat storm water pollution back to the drawing board.

The proposed fee would be levied on all property owners within the county's flood control district, raising an estimated $290 million a year to help cities and the county deal with widespread water quality issues stemming from polluted storm water and urban runoff and the need to comply with new state regulations, the L.A. Times reported.

But it faced strong opposition, including from local school districts, which for the first time would be taxed for the program. Already facing stark budget woes, the potential cost of the proposal didn’t sit well with officials at Burbank and Glendale unified school districts.

Districts would be assessed according to a formula that takes into account how much land they own and how much of it contributes to run-off, which means the range could be from the tens of thousands to seven-figures, such as the $4 million annual assessment expected for Los Angeles Unified.

Burbank and Glendale school officials opposed the plan, both in terms of potential costs and out of fear that it would set a precedent for future fees imposed by the county.

In a statement issued after the meeting Tuesday, county Supervisor Michael Antonovich said stormwater cleanup was the state's responsibility.

"County residents, school districts, businesses and churches should not be burdened with higher taxes to support another state unfunded mandate," he said.

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-- Jason Wells, Times Community News / With reporting by Los Angeles Times staff writer Abbey Sewell

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