The $3 Billion Bond Bomb

PERSPECTIVE - North Korea is threatening to nuke the United States, but in Los Angeles, City Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino are back at it with their threats to bomb property owners.  


Why worry about North Korea when we have these two gentlemen? 

They are prepared to exercise the nuclear option by implementing a parcel tax to cover the debt service of their bond proposal. 

The pair claims the cost per property, assuming a value of $350,000, would start at $24 per year and peak at $120 in ten years. Cheaper than the damage we incur to our cars from streets that resemble the Oregon Trail; at least that’s what the good councilmen say. 

Instead of being relieved by the promise of the so-called savings, we should be upset that we have paid a hidden tax on our cars all these years with nothing to show for it. 

If the parcel tax were the only increase property owners faced in the years to come, perhaps it would not be that big a deal. However, we face a steady stream of utility rate increases. On top of that, tax increases will always loom due to ever-increasing union benefits (because it is unlikely the council will ever require a sufficient level of employee contributions). Sidewalk repairs are estimated to cost $1 billion – no telling what financing scheme will be used for that sum. 

It is not as if we can compensate for years of deferred maintenance and neglect without going into debt and paying for it with new sources of revenue, but before we absorb another penny in taxes – especially a tax that hits a single class of residents – we must insist the city deal with the structural deficit caused by generous retirement benefits for city workers. These benefits account for the fastest growing cost component in the general fund. 

Mayoral candidates Greuel and Garcetti should take a position on this issue. 

We deserve an answer.


(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village, contributes to CityWatch and can be reached at: [email protected]) –cw



Vol 11 Issue 29

Pub: Apr 9, 2013