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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA March 8, 2005 Election
Measure LaHabraHeights---A
Fire Services
City of La Habra Heights

1,176 / 81.4% Yes votes ...... 268 / 18.6% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall an Ordinance be adopted to renew the City's authority to spend existing revenues from the special fire tax approved by two-thirds of the City's voters in 1997 to provide essential fire services by renewing the voter-approved amendment to the City's appropriation limit?

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney Sandra J. Levin
Summary. If passed, Ordinance No. 256 would not impose any new tax or increase any existing tax. Rather, Ordinance No. 256 would renew an amendment to the City’s expenditure limit to allow the City to continue to spend the proceeds of the City's existing, voter-approved Special Fire Tax to provide fire safety services in the City.

Background. Prior to 1997, the City of La Habra Heights funded its Fire Department with a Fire Fee collected via the property tax roll. The adoption of Proposition 218 in 1996 required that the City’s Fire Fee be replaced with a voter-approved Special Fire Tax. In a special election held July 15, 1997, a two-thirds majority of the City's voters approved replacing the Fire Fee with the current Special Fire Tax.

In 1980 the voters of California adopted Proposition 4, the so-called "Gann Initiative," which places a ceiling on the amount a local government can spend from "the proceeds of taxation" without voter approval. This limit, known as "the Gann Limit," was initially based on 1978 tax expenditures and adjusted annually thereafter for inflation and population growth.

When the Fire Fee was replaced with the Special Fire Tax in 1997, the City was then required to include the proceeds of the Special Fire Tax in the City's calculation of expenditures of "the proceeds of taxation" even though the fire fee it replaced was not previously included in that calculation. The inclusion of these proceeds would have brought the City’s expenditures over its Gann Limit. Therefore, in 1997, and again in 2001, the City's voters approved an increase in the City’s Gann Limit to allow the City to spend the proceeds of the Special Fire Tax to provide fire safety services to residents and property owners in the City. Pursuant to Proposition 4, an amendment to the City's Gann Limit must be resubmitted to the City's voters every 4 years. Accordingly, the City Council placed Measure A on the ballot to allow the City's voters to adopt Ordinance No. 256 to extend the Gann Limit amendment for another 4 years.

Effect of Ordinance No. 256. If adopted by a majority of the voters, Ordinance No. 256 would renew the amendment of the City's Gann Limit to allow the City to spend the proceeds of the City’s existing, voterapproved Special Fire Tax to provide fire safety services in the City. It would not increase the existing Special Fire Tax. If Measure A is not approved, the City would be unable to spend all the proceeds of the Special Fire Tax for fire safety services in the City. Ordinance No. 256 expires by its own terms on March 10, 2009 unless the City’s voters vote to extend it.

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Arguments For Measure LaHabraHeights---A
Every four (4) years residents of the City have an opportunity to decide whether the Fire Department will be fully funded through the Fire Tax. The voters have approved this measure each time it has been placed on the ballot. Without the authorized tax, the Fire Department could not operate at its maximum capabilities. Reserves would be used and the City would lose its ability to set aside money for future fire equipment. In short, the entire Fire Tax is critical to operating the Fire Department at an acceptable level.

Why is there a vote needed to spend the Fire Tax approved by the citizens in 1997? It is because of the "Gann Limit". In 1979, Californians passed the Gann Limit Proposition. This proposition limited the amount government can spend each year. The limit is calculated each year by multiplying the existing limit by rates of growth and inflation. The Fire Tax is required to be a part of the Gann Limit calculation.

If the City wants to spend revenues received in excess of the Gann Limit calculation, it must receive the voted approval by a majority at least every four (4) years. Presently, the City’s "Gann Limit" is $2,428,543. This years General Fund expenditures are $2,018,422, or about $400,000 less than the Gann Limit. However, with the Fire Tax, expenditures increase to $2,826,472. Without the override vote, we could only spend $2,428,543, thereby cutting the expenditures to the fire department by almost $400,000.

Citizens of La Habra Heights have recognized the vital importance of a properly staffed and equipped fire department. They have recognized the least expensive way of providing that service is by having their own department. The City Council asks that you again vote YES on the Gann Limit Override and fully fund the Fire Department.


Ed Borrowe, Mayor
Bruce Douglas, Mayor Pro Tem
Fred Klein, Council Member
Stan Carroll, Council Member
Tela Millsap, Council Member

(No arguments against Measure LaHabraHeights---A were submitted)

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Created: March 29, 2005 12:43 PST
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