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Ventura County News Roundup

Countywide : Grand Jury Urges Board to Ask Voters Before OKing Taxes

April 23, 1993|TINA DAUNT

The Ventura County grand jury on Thursday urged county supervisors to get permission from voters before taxing property owners for firefighting, mosquito abatement and a host of other services.

In a one-page letter sent to the board members, the grand jury called the special assessment taxes on county property owners "very regressive."

"The grand jury firmly believes in the spirit and purpose of Proposition 13," panel foreman Woodrow Shumate wrote to the board.

The grand jury, which serves as the local government watchdog, also urged the supervisors to implement special assessments for no more than three years at a time.

Although Supervisor Maggie Kildee said she would rather have the voters decide on the taxes, she pointed out that the supervisors are barred from taking the assessment questions to the voters.

Under current law, most special assessments are decided in an election only if enough property owners file a formal protest.

"I think it would be wonderful if we could just say, 'Do you want it or not?' " Kildee said.

"But it is my understanding that with a benefit assessment, you cannot just put it on the ballot."

In the wake of sharp losses in state funding, a growing number of local agencies are moving forward with plans to raise taxes through special assessment districts to pay forservices.

Earlier this week the supervisors agreed to charge property owners up to $14 annually to control mosquitoes and keep the county's streams and rivers free of pollution.

On Tuesday, the board will consider charging home owners $110 for fire protection.

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