Signal Hill Community First is making sure that you know about, and get the chance to vote on any new City of Signal Hill taxes, fees or assessments and any increases to them.
Community First is collecting signatures of Signal Hill registered voters on a petition to require the City to hold voter elections to approve or disapprove these types of measures. The petition also includes voter approval of the use of City revenue to subsidize a development project; such as, giving a developer sales tax revenue as a subsidy.
Circulating an initiative petition is a lot of work. But, Community First is taking it on because it is clear that the City Council is not interested in making sure that Signal Hill residents are informed and get a chance to judge how proposed City actions might affect them. After the Council rejected several requests to hold community meetings to explain the new Economic Development Assistance Ordinance (gives the City broad authority to raise revenue for developer subsidies and general municipal purposes), Community First started the petition work.
After going through the City Charter with a fine toothed comb, Community First found that the City can pretty much raise taxes, fees and assessments with just minimal attention given to keep Signal Hill residents informed. In fact, a clause in the Charter lets the City ignore state law. That means the City could raise fees beyond all the limits put into place by the state. (See Petition Filing Fee Protest post.)
An informed citizen is the bedrock of our democracy. The vote is the citizen’s tool to hold their government accountable to them. This is what the Taxpayer’s Right to Know and Vote is about.
Only citizens registered to vote in the City of Signal Hill, zip code 90755, can sign the petition. Please contact us to get your signature or answer your questions.
The law requires that the City’s attorney write a summary of the purpose and major points of the petition. Here it is:
Taxpayer’s Right to Know and Vote
Initiative Measure to be Submitted Directly to the Voters
The city attorney has prepared the following title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure:
Requiring 2/3 Vote For All Taxes, Assessments, And Fees; Expiration Of Taxes and Fees Within 10 Years, Assessments Within 20 Years; Requiring Bond Repayment in 20 Years. Initiative Charter Amendment.
This initiative measure (“Measure”) would amend the Charter of the City of Signal Hill to require approval by a 2/3 vote for any increases in taxes, assessments or fees. This Measure features:
- No tax, assessment, fee, charge or bond indebtedness measure can be enacted without being approved by a 2/3 vote of the electors.
- The ballot must include certain disclosures
- the purpose;
- a revenue collection estimate;
- length of payments and payment amounts of affected payers;
- any revenue sharing agreements with any entity.
- A financial and legislative analysis to be paid for by City must be performed by independent legal and accounting firms jointly selected by project proponents and opponents.
- Taxes expire in no later than 10 years; assessments no later than 20 years; and fees no later than 10 years from enactment.
- The time limit for the City to pay off the principal for most bonded indebtedness is decreased from 40 years to 20 years. Requires sinking fund for payment.
- Fees subject to the election requirements include charges for services and benefits received including franchise fees, or to mitigate impacts caused by any activity or business.
- Voids charter provisions making ordinances governing municipal affairs superior to state law.
- If tax, assessment, or fee is for an economic development proposal, the benefited developer must pay for the election.