Monterey Park Approves Term Limits, Changes to Communications Tax

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

Monterey Park residents voted last week to limit the terms of public officials and to update the language of the communications tax by passing two city ballot measures.

According to the results that still need to be certified by the city council, voters approved Measure EE, which imposes term limits on elected officials, by a large margin, 80.4% (3,200) in favor and 19.5% (779) against the measure.

Currently, Monterey Park elected officials, including members of the city council, the city treasurer and city clerk, all serve four-year terms. Prior to the passage of term limits, there was no limit on the number of terms a public official could serve.

Elected officials will now be limited to serving two consecutive terms per public office; however, they will be eligible to run again following a two-year or longer hiatus from office. The two-year waiting period does not apply if they want to run for another city office.

The term limit measure was placed on the ballot by the city council, City Manager Paul Talbot told EGP. He said after taking a look at what surrounding cities had done, the council decided the two consecutive term limit was reasonable.

The measure is set to go into effect once the unofficial results are accepted by the city council on March 19.

Newly elected council members Hans Liang and Peter Chan, City Treasurer Joseph Leon and City Clerk Vincent D. Chang, will be the first city officials to have the term limits imposed on them.

The time clock for city officials elected prior to the adoption of term limits, will not start running until after their next election in 2015, said Talbot.

According to the measure, partial terms lasting more than two years and resignations prior to the completion of a full term will be treated as a full four-year term.

Although state law is clear that voters may impose term limits on the city council, it is unclear if voters have the right to impose term limits on the offices of city treasurer and city clerk. Should a legal challenge overturn the term limits imposed on the city treasurer and city clerk, it would not affect the term limits imposed on the city council by the voter-approved ordinance.

According to Talbot, there has so far not been any indication that there will be an attempt to challenge either the term limits on the city treasurer or city clerk.

Passage of Measure DD, the other measure on the ballot last week, amends the existing telephone utility user tax (UUT) with an updated communications tax. The ordinance was passed with 60% (2,279) voter approval, according to the unofficial results.

The newly passed measure will amend Monterey Park’s Municipal Code, which regulates the city’s utility users taxes (UUT) by cleaning up the language of the telephone tax to reflect current technology.

“It was just so outdated,” Talbot said.

He told EGP that the city could have challenged legally for taxing new technologies since the ordinance was not clear on them. The new measure took the vagueness out, he said.

Passage of the measure does not increase the current telephone tax rate, which will remain at 3% for residents and 5.5% for commercial users. The tax generated $1.1 million in revenue for the city during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

“We don’t expect a fiscal impact,” Talbot added.

The new ordinance will take effect 10 days after the city council certifies the election results.

“This should have been done years ago,” Talbot said.

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March 14, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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