City agrees to new language on November ballot measure

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Wave Wire Services

CULVER CITY — The city and opponents of a Nov. 3 ballot measure that seeks to replace money lost to the city due to the coronavirus have agreed on new language that those urging a “No” vote can use on election materials that will be printed and made available to voters.

Attorneys for the city and Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant during a hearing Sept. 4 that the resolution ends legal action City Clerk Jeremy Green filed Sept. 2 regarding Measure RE.

Green sued after objecting to the opponents’ proposed statement that contained a headline in capital letters, “Measure RE contains a sneaky provision. The City Council can broaden the tax by a majority vote.”

The original opposition statement further contained text stating that if the City Council “wants more of our tax dollars, with a majority vote, they can lower (Measure) RE’s $1.5 million threshold to $500,000 or any level, raising taxes on even more residents and small business owners.”

According to Green, the original opposition statement was misleading because Measure RE “expressly prohibits the City Council from amending the ordinance to increase the authorized tax rate.”

The new opposition headline, also in all capital letters, will state, Measure RE’s tax rate will likely never go down.”

The revised text will state, “Measure RE grants the city manager the authority to adjust tax tiers based on the Consumer Price Index. But rates will likely never decrease below those stated in the ordinance.”

Measure RE came about after the coronavirus caused many of Culver City’s longtime revenue streams to fall short of expectations, including sales taxes, transient occupancy taxes, parking revenue and business license fees, the city’s petition stated. The City Council reduced expenses and limited city services to deal with the loss of revenue.

But despite the city’s best efforts to develop an economic restoration plan, a full economic recovery is years away and the City Council has concluded that it cannot rely on its traditional revenue streams to restore financial health and preserve essential services, the petition stated.

On Aug. 3, the City Council voted to place Measure RE on the Nov. 3 ballot. If approved by voters, it would increase real property transfer taxes for properties valued at $1.5 million or more and set progressive transfer tax rates based on valuation thresholds exceeding $1.5 million, according to the petition.

Measure RE would allow the City Council to amend the law provided that the change does not result in an increase in the authorized tax rate. The measure also would authorize the city manager to adjust the valuation thresholds for inflation, provided that they may not be reduced below the amounts established in the ordinance, the petition states.

Together, these provisions make clear that neither the city manager, nor the City Council, may increase the real property transfer tax rate,” the suit says.

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