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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Measure L
Telephone Users Tax Update
City of Lakewood

Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 25,678 / 78.94% Yes votes ...... 6,852 / 21.06% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 28 5:11pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (52/52)
Information shown below: Official Information | Impartial Analysis |

Shall an ordinance be adopted to update and continue the telecommunications portion of Lakewood’s utility users tax to fund law enforcement, gang and drug prevention programs, after-school activities, senior transportation, parks, street and traffic signal maintenance and other essential services, with exemptions for low-income residents and seniors and provisions for equal treatment of taxpayers regardless of technology used, annual audits, public review of expenditures, no rate increases without voter approval, and local control of revenues?

Official Sources of Information

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney Steve Skolnik
Ballot Measure L proposes the adoption of an ordinance which would update the Lakewood Municipal Code chapter that governs the City’s existing Utility Users Tax on telephone services. The proposed ordinance would not change the 3% tax rate, and it would not have any effect on the City’s existing utility tax on electricity, gas and water.

In 1992, the City adopted a 3% Utility Users Tax. Lakewood voters affirmed the tax in 1997. Revenues and expenditures are independently audited annually and the audit is made public. Elderly, disabled, and low-income residents are eligible for an exemption, based on income and family size. The rate has remained at 3% since 1992 and cannot be raised in the future without a vote of the people.

Utility Users Tax revenue goes into the City’s General Fund, which is used to pay for essential City services, such as law enforcement, anti-gang and anti-drug programs, after-school activities for youth, senior transportation programs, park programs, and street maintenance, as well as the day-to-day operations of City government.

Approximately $1.3 million of the City’s annual Utility Users Tax receipts come from telephone services. The continued receipt of this amount is in severe jeopardy. The current Municipal Code provisions, adopted many years ago, were written before the advent of significant changes in telephone technology, including cell phones and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol phones. Recent changes in Federal and State law, along with court decisions and pending litigation, cast doubt on the City’s ability to collect the utility tax on these and newer forms of telephone service unless the city’s Code provisions are modernized. The proposed ordinance would remedy this situation, and insure that all users of telecommunications are treated equally, regardless of the kind of phone service they use. If the Measure is not adopted, it is almost a certainty that some users will pay the tax and some will not, depending on the manner in which they obtain telephone services in the future.

A “Yes” vote on Measure L is a vote in favor of adopting an ordinance (summarized above) that will update the City’s Code and apply it equitably to all forms of telephone service. A simple majority of “Yes” votes is required for the ordinance to be enacted.

A “No” vote is against adopting the ordinance.

If the ordinance is not enacted, the current Code provisions would remain unchanged, which would leave in place the existing 3% tax on today’s telephone services, but with all of the uncertainties and potential inequities described above.

  Official Information

City of Lakewood

Opposing Organizations

Lakewood Accountability Action Group
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