Montebello Voters Reject Sales Tax Hike

November 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The unofficial results from Tuesday’s election solidified Montebello voters’ overwhelming opposition to Measure S, which proposed a 0.75 percent hike in the city’s sales tax to bring new revenue to the city.

Despite Montebello officials repeatedly declaring the sales tax increase was necessary, Measure S was soundly defeated with a large difference of 2,213 (62.13 percent) to 1,349 (37.87 percent) votes.

After declaring a financial emergency, the Montebello City Council in May voted to hold a special election on Nov. 7 to ask voters to raise the sales tax.

City officials originally wanted to hike the sales tax by 1-cent and projected a $9 million jump in revenue if the measure were to pass, but were later forced to lower the projection to $6.75 million to comply with a state law regulating the amount local municipalities can charge in sales tax.

Because Los Angeles County voters had approved a quarter-cent sales tax hike in March to pay for services for the homeless, which went into on Oct. 1, Montebello officials were forced to lower their ask to .75-cents to avoid violating the cap, causing the drop in projected revenue.

The city said the added revenue would help pay for things like street repairs and filling pot holes, park programs and maintenance, senior services and public safety programs, and to hire additional police and fire personnel.

Montebello residents, including a local watchdog group, didn’t buy it and urged voters to against the hike, saying the city council could not be trusted to spend the money as intended.

 

 

 

No Good Will Come From Higher Gas Tax, Consumers Complain

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Anyone who believes the money will really be used to fix roads is delusional,” said Lisa Tuesday as she filled her car’s gas tank at the USA gas station in Lincoln Heights.

She was referring to the 12 cents a gallon gasoline tax hike that California legislators approved earlier this year saying the added revenue would be used to repair the state’s crumbling roads.

“All they are going to do is take the money and put it somewhere else like they always do,” complained Lisa, who was reluctant to give her last name or take a photo because she fears “retaliation from her liberal co-workers” at the Los Angeles County agency where she works.

The new tax went into effect Wednesday and the higher prices were immediately visible at the pump, where the number of patrons getting gas was far less than onTuesday.

SB 1, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown April 28, increases the gasoline excise tax by 12 cents a gallon, the diesel fuel excise tax 20 cents per gallon, the sales tax on diesel to 5.75 percent, beginning Wednesday, and raises the vehicle registration fee $25 – $175, depending on the value of the vehicle on Jan. 1.

The price at the pump jumped Wednesday when California's added 12cents a gallon gas tax took effect. (EGP Photo by Gloria Alvarez)

The price at the pump jumped Wednesday when California’s added 12cents a gallon gas tax took effect. (EGP Photo by Gloria Alvarez)

The revenue from the tax and registration fee increases will be used to repair roads, highways and bridges and improve public transportation, Brown said.

Elisa Mejia drives a 2007 Chevy Suburban and it takes a lot of gas; 31 gallons to be exact. With four children and an elderly father in a wheelchair, she said she needs the large vehicle to get everyone around.

“I can hardly pay for it now,” she said in Spanish, pointing out Tuesday’s trip to the pump cost her $84 and she hadn’t even filled the tank. “People tell me to get a smaller car, but are they going to buy it for me? Are they going to give rides to my child I can’t fit in the car? I don’t think so,” Mejia said.

“I’ll be dead before the bus gets me everywhere I need to go,” she said in frustration.

However, if some Republican lawmakers have their way, the new taxes will not be around for long. They have initiated a pair of efforts to repeal the new taxes through a ballot measures in 2018.

“With Jerry Brown’s new gas tax, as of Nov. 1, 2017 every gallon of gas will cost 12 cents more, diesel will cost 20 cents more, and car registration fees will go up as much as $175 for every California driver,” said Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, who is also running for governor.

“Adding insult to injury, this massive new tax will not build any new roads, and it
will do nothing to fix California’s worst in the nation traffic. In fact, Brown’s new gas tax legislation actually has specific language that will reduce lane capacity and increase traffic.”

Opponents also say the taxes couldn’t come at a worse time, with President Trump proposing “to cut California Community Block Grant Funds for housing, job training, education, pre-disaster mitigation, and counterterrorism funding to California, placing an even greater strain on California’s volatile revenues, disproportionate spending growth, mounting debts, and inadequate infrastructure, such as water.”

The taxes are regressive, according to a joint statement issued by Aubry Stone, President/CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce and Earl “Skip” Cooper, II, President/CEO Black Business Association. They “contribute to poverty and the economic, academic, and health disparities between wealthy, middle income, and poor Californians,”

Brown denounced the effort to repeal the taxes.

“I can’t believe the proponents of this ballot measure really want Californians to keep driving on lousy roads and dangerous bridges,” Brown said in September, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“People just don’t want to understand that in the long run this is a good thing,” 28-year-old Daniel Greenberg told EGP, standing at that same USA gas station in Lincoln Heights Wednesday.

“The roads are terrible, there’s a lot of wear and tear on your car that costs you money, probably more than what the new tax will cost,” he said as he put gas in his 2015 Toyota Corolla.

“We can’t change the past, so if Californians want clean air and streets that aren’t cracked and falling apart, they’ll just have to pay for it.”

But Lisa thinks taxpayers have already paid for those thing but “nothing ever gets done.”

“Caltrans doesn’t know what it’s doing, they don’t know how to fix the freeways, and neither do the legislators,” Lisa said. “All they know how to do is stick their hands in our pocket and hope it goes deeper and deeper.”

Information from City News Service used in this report.

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