Tax Ballot Measure to Support Undergrounding
“Tax ballot measure hearing rescheduled,” from Stu News, July 13, by Barbara Diamond
The scheduled hearing on alternative ballot measures to fund utility undergrounding along key evacuation routes was postponed on Tuesday for a week [until July 17].
Mayor Kelly Boyd requested the postponement because he was ailing and could not attend Tuesday’s meeting at which the council was to discuss the ballot measures prepared by staff. The staff report set forth the choice between special purpose and general purpose measures and the steps that must be taken to put one of them on the November ballot. The item will be heard July 17.
Councilman Steve Dicterow said he welcomed the postponement because it permits more time for the public to be informed about the differences between general and special purpose tax increase measures.
“I think it is very important for people to understand the difference,” said Dicterow.
Special purpose taxes require a two-third supermajority vote for approval and the revenue is limited to the specified use approved by the voters. A general purpose tax increase requires a 50 percent plus one vote and revenue goes into the general fund, to be spent at the council’s discretion, not as incorrectly reported last week.
If the general purpose tax is selected, the council must adopt a resolution expressing support for the Utility Undergrounding, Fire Safety and Other Essential City Services Measure, its intents to prioritize spending options for future ballot measure revenue, and its intent to create an oversight committee. The special purpose measure is titled Laguna Beach Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure.
Both measures to be considered recommend a one percent increase in sales tax.
Council actions must be taken regardless of selected option
Wording of both measures was developed by Boyd and the council’s Utility Undergrounding Subcommittee of Councilmen Rob Zur Schmiede and Bob Whalen.
Regardless of which option is selected, certain actions must be taken by the council:
--Direct the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis measure
--Authorize City Manager John Pietig to prepare a fiscal analysis
--Authorize Boyd, Whalen and Zur Schmiede, any other council members so inclined and the chiefs of the Police and Fire Departments to prepare direct and rebuttal arguments in favor of the selected measure
Staff has also recommended that the council appoint Whalen and Zur Schmiede to prepare a ballot argument in favor of the selected ballot measure and a rebuttal.
All of the documents must be filed with the City Clerk’s Office by 5:30 p.m., August 10.
The first reading of an ordinance for the selected measure is scheduled to be introduced at Tuesday’s meeting. A second reading will be required for adoption.
Staff had prepared a lengthy report on steps for placing measures for a general purpose sales tax increase or a special purpose sales tax increase on the ballot.
Also delayed until the July 17 meeting: The request by the city to the Orange County Board Supervisors to consolidate the municipal election with the statewide general election on November 6, because all five council members are required to participate in the request.