By Kris Murray, Anaheim City Councilmember.
In 1986, California voters passed Proposition 62, which among other things, closed some loopholes in Prop. 13 and mandated a local agency’s legislative body obtain a two-thirds vote in order to place new or higher general taxes on their local ballot. It was a successful state initiative designed to make it more difficult to increase taxes at the local level. Proposition 62 was also the last major tax initiative led by Howard Jarvis – he ran the effort to qualify it for the ballot but did not live to see it approved by the voters having passed away just before the election.
As a member of the Anaheim City Council one of my priorities has been to strengthen taxpayer protections so I was surprised to learn that Proposition 62 did not pertain to Charter cities, like Anaheim. On March 3, 2015, I introduced the Anaheim Taxpayer Protection Act to change that and I am pleased that several of my council colleagues stood with me to begin the process to change this oversight in our city charter.
In the years since Prop. 62 passed, the courts have ruled that the requirement of a two-thirds vote to put general taxes on the ballot only applies to General Law cities but not to the state’s more than 120 Charter cities. Even with the passage of Prop. 218 ten years later, there was no increased vote threshold required of the governing bodies of Charter cities to approve new taxes or recommend an increase of existing taxes for the local ballot.
Charter cities have escaped this requirement due to a lingering loophole in state law. To ensure that Anaheim meets the letter and the spirit of the law, I introduced the Anaheim Taxpayer Protection Act to conform our city with existing state law, which if passed would increase Anaheim’s city council approval for any new or expanded tax from a simple majority to a two-thirds vote.
Local taxes come in many forms, including sales and use taxes, utility taxes, and gate or entertainment taxes. What do these taxes have in common? They are all taxes that are regressive and disproportionately affect working families by raising the cost of living for all residents and workers.
Anaheim is fortunate to have some of the state’s most powerful economic engines within its borders, but other cities statewide without such resources have ramped up consideration of additional local taxes for city services. As a local elected official, I am committed to keeping taxes low and generating revenue through economic growth. Taxpayer protections at the local level should not be limited by whether you live in a General Law city or a Charter city – they were adopted by voters under Prop. 62 nearly 30 years ago and should be available to everyone.
In Anaheim, I believe we should set an example for all Charter cities by requiring a two-thirds vote of the city council before recommending to increase taxation of our residents, businesses and visitors.
The Anaheim Taxpayer Protection Act was introduced on March 3, 2015. The act is set to be voted on by the city council on April 7, 2015.