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2 Key Issues Could Be Placed on Ballot : Mission Viejo: City Council weighs whether to ask voter approval for tax rebate and plans for City Hall.


MISSION VIEJO — Voters could be asked in June whether they want a tax rebate and whether the city should spend $18 million for a City Hall.

Councilman William S. Craycraft, who proposed in December that the city refund $10 million of its $21-million surplus, said he will ask the City Council on Monday to approve placing on the June ballot a measure that would refund $500 to each taxpayer. In the same meeting, the council will consider placing the City Hall question on the ballot.

Councilman Robert A. Curtis, who in the past has accused Craycraft of stealing the rebate idea, indicated that he will request that a less hefty rebate be proposed.

But a majority of the five-member council has so far opposed any rebate. After a Feb. 12 town meeting, at which most speakers argued against rebates, Mayor Sharon Cody and Council members Robert D. Breton and Susan Withrow said they will vote against any attempt to put the issue on the ballot.

"The people out there feel that a rebate isn't warranted and isn't wise," Withrow said Friday. "This whole thing has been a populist political ploy. I'm disappointed in it ever coming up, because a lot of people are going to be disappointed because they didn't get rebates."

Despite recognizing that the refund proposal will probably be rejected, Curtis said he will still seek the ballot issue.

"It will be an uphill battle," Curtis said recently. "I just want people to have the opportunity to vote" on rebates.

Prospects are better for Monday's other issue: whether to seek public approval of an $18-million civic center off Crown Valley Parkway near Interstate 5.

The Citizens Action Committee, a local political group, opposes the proposed 80,000-square-foot building, saying it will cost too much, and says a city hall should be more centrally located. But the City Council has moved ahead, hiring an architect to draw up plans.

Council members say the complex will be needed by the city eventually and will cost more to build in the future. The ballot measure that the council is considering would be advisory only.

The Citizens Action Committee advocates a binding measure. On Wednesday, the group turned in a 5,198-signature petition, calling for the issue to be placed on the November ballot.

Withrow said that on Monday the council will discuss making the ballot measure binding.

"I'm in favor of it being a binding measure," she said. "It makes no sense to me that if we put this to a vote and it comes back negative--well, who am I to go against a majority of residents?

"But I'm very confident that when the voters look at the facts, they'll feel like the council; that (a City Hall) is the best economical direction to take."

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