Orange County will join an appeal of a Sacramento judge's ruling that found the county's plan to raise the sales tax one-half cent to pay for new jails unconstitutional, County Counsel Adrian Kuyper said Tuesday.
Orange County and five other counties had hoped to place on the ballot separate half-cent sales tax measures requiring simple majority approval. But earlier this month, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled that a state law enabling the counties to do that violated Proposition 13, which requires a two-thirds majority to approve new taxes.
The counties had argued that the sales tax measures would create new jail facilities commissions with no other taxing authority, and were therefore exempt from Proposition 13.
But the judge, noting that the commissions would have no real power to decide where the new jails would be built or when, said they were "sham" agencies serving as alter egos of the boards of supervisors.
"We just have a difference of opinion with the judge," Kuyper said. "I think the (proposed jail commission) is a separate entity from the county, and shouldn't be governed by Proposition 13. . . . The case should be heard before an appellate court."
Los Angeles County, one of the other five counties affected by the decision, has already filed an appeal, Kuyper said. Orange County will be joining in that appeal.