CALIFORNIA CITY ELECTIONS; TAX MEASURE EXPECTED AGAIN ON JUNE BALLOT.
California City voters likely will be asked for a fifth time whether they would be willing to tax themselves to fund municipal services.
Saying there are no other options, California City leaders will begin sounding out the community as to what services they are willing to fund. A tax measure will likely be placed on the June ballot, officials say.
``If they don't want their streets paved and sewers, they should let us know so we won't fight for this,'' said Mayor Larry Adams.
At the request of Councilman Nicholas Lessenevitch, the council will discuss Tuesday how to go about soliciting public opinion regarding a new property tax measure. The council will have to act before February to get a measure on the June ballot, City Manager Steve West said.
``The council will plumb the feelings of the citizens and decide what kinds of services the citizens are willing to pay for,'' West said.
Adams said he expects the city will seek about $65 to $75 a year from property owners.
For eight years the city's budget was augmented by an annual tax of $53 per parcel. The tax, which provided more than $2 million a year for city services, expired in June 1995.
Four attempts to replace that tax have been voted down.
In September 1996, the City Council approved an annual assessment ranging from $19 for vacant lots to $22.42 from commercial property to pay for fire protection. The assessment will provide $828,496 for the fiscal year that ends in June.
That assessment, however, will end this summer as a result of Proposition 218, which was approved by voters in November 1996.
Proposition 218 blocks municipal governments from enacting property-based assessments or increasing existing assessments without the approval of voters and specifically forbids property-based assessments for fire and police services.
At the time the fire protection assessment was enacted, state law required an election only if property owners representing more than 10 percent of the $828,495 assessment protested.
In the case of the fire protection tax, the city received protests amounting to approximately 6 percent of the assessment.