CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Board Opposes Initiative to Limit Local Revenue

At its meeting last Thursday, the CSAC Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to oppose a proposed initiative designed to make it harder for the state, counties, and other local agencies to approve or collect taxes and other revenues. The measure has not collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but its proponents are attempting to qualify it for the November ballot.

The initiative’s main provisions would impose voter-approval requirements for state taxes, increase voter-approval requirements for some local taxes, and reclassify some fees as taxes so they would also have to be approved by voters.

In addition, it would limit local control by prohibiting county charter amendments that provide for any kind of revenue, prohibit advisory measures from being placed on the ballot in certain cases, make it easier to challenge local agency fees in court, and increase the burden of proof for local agencies trying to defend those fees in court.

While some members of the Board raised concerns about the state’s tax burden, the debate largely focused on the effect the initiative would have on the ability of county authority to collect revenues at a level sufficient to provide the degree of local services the community desires, as outlined in the California County Platform. Some members of the Board also raised concerns about the effect the measure would have on other county activities such as real estate transactions.

The proposed initiative is also opposed by the League of California Cities and the California Special Districts Association. The vote by the Board follows the unanimous recommendations of the CSAC Executive Committee and the Government Finance and Administration Policy Committee.

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