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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Measure V
Communication Users Tax
City of Hawthorne

Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 15,704 / 73.39% Yes votes ...... 5,694 / 26.61% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 28 5:11pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (38/38)
Information shown below: Official Information | Impartial Analysis |

Shall Ordinance No. 1925 be adopted to maintain the rate of the City of Hawthorne’s Communication Users’ Tax (formerly the Telephone Users Tax and Cable Television Users Tax) at 5%; to revise the method for calculating and collecting the Communication Users’ Tax to reflect technological advances and changes in federal law; to continue the tax exemption for senior-citizen and disabled households; and to ratify and approve the past collection of the Tax?

Official Sources of Information

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
Glen E. Shishido
The City of Hawthorne currently levies a 5% Utility Users Tax on electric, gas, telephone, cable television and water services provided in the City. The tax is collected by utilities from their customers, and used by the City for general municipal purposes, such as providing police services and parks & recreation programs.

As the existing tax ordinance was written in 1984, the language in the telephone and cable television portions of the ordinance is outdated and do not reflect significant advances in technology since 1984. Therefore, the tax is not imposed on many communication services and devices that have since come into existence, such as voiceover- internet protocol. Furthermore, recent federal court decisions in other states have cast doubt on whether the ordinance, as currently written, can be imposed on long distance, cellular and bundled telephone services. Several California cities with almost identical ordinances to Hawthorne's are currently embroiled in litigation on this issue. Should the City be sued, or an adverse decision be reached that is controlling in California, the revenues collected from the current ordinance could be reduced substantially. The City's revenues from the telephone portion of the tax were approximately $2.3 million in 2006-2007. This accounted for 5% percent of the City's overall general fund revenue.

Measure V would update the existing telephone and cable television taxes to a modem communications users' tax applicable to all types of communication and video services, regardless of the technology used. The rate of the tax would remain 5%. It would also retain the existing exemptions for seniors and the disabled and ratify past application of the tax. The tax cannot be increased in the future without a vote of the people. The measure has no effect on the existing utility user tax applied to electrical, gas and water servIces.

A "yes" vote is in favor of adopting the updated communications tax ordinance summarized above. A "no" vote is against adopting the ordinance. A majority of "yes" votes is required for the ordinance to be enacted.

  Official Information

City of Hawthorne

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