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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Measure A
Public Safety, Emergency Response and Crime Prevention
Los Angeles County

Ordinance - 2/3 Majority Approval Required

1,652,046 / 60.17% Yes votes ...... 1,093,409 / 39.83% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 26 2:53pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (4,602/4,602)
Information shown below: Summary | Official Information | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To provide expanded law enforcement in Los Angeles County and each of its cities, additional deputy sheriffs and city police officers, expanded community policing, strengthened youth and adult crime prevention programs, improved emergency and terrorism response capability, upgraded emergency communications systems, strengthened Sheriff's operations in the jails, and related justice services, shall the Countywide sales tax be increased by one-half cent, subject to audit and Oversight Committee review?

Summary Prepared by League of Women Voters of L.A. County:
What This Measure Would Do
Approval of this Public Safety and Homeland Security Tax Act by at least two-thirds of the voters would put these provisions in the County Code:
  • Sales/use tax in Los Angeles County would increase by one-half cent, effective April 1, 2005. The sales tax would go from 8.25 to 8.75 cents per dollar.
  • Proceeds from the tax would be used solely to fund ?public safety services, local anti-terrorism efforts, and homeland security as delineated in the Measure.
  • Funds would be allocated to the County and to cities within the County according to a formula and with conditions specified in the Measure.

Authorized Purposes
  • Providing additional basic public safety services, including sworn and support law enforcement personnel, equipment and facilities.
  • Managing emergency/disaster operations.
  • Improving crime investigation.
  • Expanding community-oriented policing services.
  • Increasing anti-terrorism efforts.
  • Training, coordinating, and managing ?first response? capabilities.

Allocation of Funds
  • Communications upgrade among public safety agencies in the County: up to 2%
  • Sheriff?s custody operations: 9%
  • Other County law enforcement and justice-related purposes, including prosecution and defense costs and probation services: 6%
  • Remaining proceeds would be divided among the County and each city within the County.
  • Each participants? share would be $500,000, plus an amount based on its population size, but the total may not be more than its 2003-2004 public safety budget.
  • Before funds are appropriated for unincorporated County areas, the Sheriff will give the Board of Supervisors a plan for their use, considering population, response time, crime rates, etc.
  • Beginning in 2006-2007, the minimum allocation would be adjusted up or down [no more than 3%] as the Consumer Price Index [CPI] changes.
  • Up to 15% of an entity?s share may be spent for youth and adult crime prevention programs.


The County Auditor-Controller would create a separate new account for these funds and report annually to the Board of Supervisors on collections and expenditures. Each participating entity, in a public meeting, must adopt an annual account of how it used its allocation. An Oversight Committee would be set up to review the distribution of funds and to report to the Board of Supervisors. The Board may direct the Auditor-Controller to audit the information provided by those who receive funds from this tax to assure compliance with the Measure.

To receive full funding, each participating entity must maintain a public safety budget at least equal to that adopted for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. That figure can be adjusted to reflect changes not in the entities? control, such as reductions in state and federal assistance.

Beginning in 2012-2013, this tax can be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Supervisors and reinstated in the same way.


In 2004, for the third year in a row, the county has had to cut services to balance its budget. The county depends on state and federal contributions for over half of its revenue. Both state and national governments face serious deficits. Indeed, the state continues to defer reimbursements due the County for mandates it imposes. Also, the federal government has imposed large fines [$220 million in 04-05] for the state?s failure to automate a child support collection system, and the state is passing on part of those fines to counties [costing LACounty $11 million this year]. County Workers? Compensation costs, retiree health insurance costs, and unemployment insurance costs are all increasing substantially.

Hardest hit departments are the Sheriff, Children and Family Services, Child Support, Probation, the Library, and Mental Health, according to Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen. Cuts in the Sheriff?s Department budget have led to jail closures, early release of inmates, and position reductions. About 60% of county employees work in law and justice and health/mental health. About 30% of the budget goes to children and family programs.

This proposal for a special tax is required by law to be submitted to a vote of the people. If two-thirds or more of voters approve it on November 2, 2004, it will take effect on April 1, 2005.

Official Sources of Information
Impartial Analysis from Deputy County Counsel
This ordinance establishes Chapter 4.69 of the Los Angeles County Code to propose a 1/2 cent Los Angeles County Transactions and Use Tax, that becomes effective only after approval by two-thirds of the qualified voters in the County voting in election on the issue. The proceeds of the tax are designated for public safety services, local anti-terrorism efforts, and homeland security. The Board of Supervisors may, by a two-thirds vote of all members, and following the priorities set out in the ordinance, suspend the levy of this tax any time following the 2012-2013 fiscal year to take effect no sooner than three years after the Board's action.


By: Thomas M. Tyrrell
Principal Deputy County Counsel
Special Services Division

Arguments Submitted to League of Women Voters of L.A. County

Summary of Arguments FOR Measure A:
  • Los Angeles County faces a crime epidemic. In 2002, with almost 400,000 serious crimes in the County, murders averaged more than three per day; rapes, almost eight a day; assaults, about 150 a day.
  • Los Angeles County has too few police officers. The 22,500 police have over 10 million people to protect; in New York there are 40,000 for about 8 million.
  • The half cent increase would provide 5,000 more police officers and Sheriff?s deputies, reducing response times and better protecting our communities.
  • Los Angeles is potentially a top terrorist target. Local resources are spread too thin and we need a modern 9-1-1 system.

Summary of Arguments AGAINST Measure A:
  • Public safety deserves to be first in line for tax dollars. Existing revenues can and should adequately fund law enforcement.
  • Los Angeles County residents already pay a higher sales tax than neighboring counties do. If the new rate passes, Los Angeles will have the highest sales tax rate of any county in the state.
  • If local city governments contracting with the county for public safety services paid the full cost of those services, the Sheriff?s budget would be adequate without the increase. Earmarking funds for special purposes is bad practice and reduces the need, ability, and motive of government officials to prioritize responsibly.
  Nonpartisan Information

Analysis from the League of Women Voters of L.A. County
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Created: December 15, 2004 13:30 PST
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