The Taxpayers Right to Know and Vote is a local initiative petition being circulated by Signal Hill Community First, an association of Signal Hill residents. Local registered voters are being asked to sign the petition to put the Know and Vote initiative on the ballot. Recent City Council comments on Know and Vote are misinformed. This letter presents the facts of Know and Vote.
Know and vote– that’s what the initiative calls for. Before new taxes, assessments, property-related fees and bonds are imposed on Signal Hill taxpayers, businesses, property owners and residents, the initiative requires that the City must disclose on a ballot:
• Why the new revenue is needed
• Who benefits
• Who bears the cost
• In total, how much is raised
• How long it takes to raise
And, if the new revenue is to be used to fund a commercial project, the City must also disclose on the ballot:
• A description of the project and why city money is needed
• How much will be used to fund the project
• Who gets the money and how it will be used
With this information on the ballot, the Signal Hill voter can decide, by using their right to vote, if they want to bear the cost.
State law governs all other elements of the initiative, and Know and Vote is consistent with that law. State law exempts from the voter approval requirement, fees such as business permit fees, plan check fees, library fees, recreation fees, fines and penalties for code violations, and so does Know and Vote.
Signal Hill’s only assessment area, California Crown, is exempt from state law, and Know and Vote does not apply to it.
Council members did not comment on property-related fees or bond issues. For the record, Know and Vote is consistent with state law on these types of impositions.
Know and Vote strengthens the voter approval requirement by providing a clear and uniform standard for voter approval on all new taxes, assessments, property-related fees and bond issues. State law allows varying standards and approval methods. Know and Vote requires a uniform two-thirds voter approval.
Indeed, with Know and Vote, city officials will have to seriously think about the Signal Hill community as a partner rather than simply as a pocketbook.