Declaring a fiscal emergency does more than simply signal that times are tough, it allows tax measures to be placed before voters sooner than the usual two-year process would allow.

The decision to declare an emergency has become more common in recent weeks as cities emerge from their latest budget season. Many are looking at out-year budgets and hope to limit cuts and austerity by placing tax measures on the upcoming November ballot.

However, when the ‘fiscal emergency’-out was designed in the two year process for local tax measures, some didn’t think it would be so widely used. Taxpayer organizations are crying foul for what they say is cities crying wolf.

From the Associated Press:

There’s a new twist emerging as some of California’s most financially troubled cities look for ways out of their predicaments: They’re declaring fiscal emergencies so they can quickly get tax hike initiatives on local November ballots.

Leaders are turning most often to an increase in the local sales tax. But there also are proposals for hikes on utility taxes, parcel taxes and, in the Los Angeles-area city of El Monte, a proposal to tax sugary drinks.

Read the full article here.