MEASURE I : La Mirada Voters to Decide on Infrastructure Needs E-mail
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Written by Tony Aiello and Brian Hews   

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La Mirada~For the first time in its 52-year history, and reflecting the current state of the economy, the city will ask residents for financial help to maintain city infrastructure and services by proposing a tax increase.

For as long as anyone can remember, La Mirada City Council incumbents running for re-election have always used the fact that La Mirada has never had a local tax as a major part of their platform. Those days appear to be over.

Measure I will be on the November 6 ballot, and if passed by voters, will raise the sales tax in La Mirada from 8.75 percent to 9.75. The tax would go into effect April 1st of next year, and would last for a period of five years.

The measure has opposition, most notably former councilman Pete Dames who served from 1994-2011.

He said the way the measure has been presented is the classic “bait and switch” in politics and he doesn’t like it, “From the very beginning this was supposed to be all about the infrastructure and nothing else.”

“Once the actual wording (of the measure) came out, it was unbelievable, they added other things. They used all the common buzz words including senior care and police services,” said Dames, who asserted other then infrastructure repair needs, the city is fine.

Councilmember Steve Jones, a supporter of Measure I disagreed, “We’ve consistently said these funds are for infrastructure repairs,” look at our City’s record, La Mirada has always done what it said it would do. Measure I will maintain City services by assuring La Mirada has the money needed for infrastructure repairs without taking funds from other vital services.”

The aging La Mirada infrastructure repairs that are needed-identified as about $67 million worth according to a city study-includes traffic lights, streets and curbs, and the sewer system, among other things.

The measure is worded so the money would be put into the general fund instead of a specific need such as infrastructure-the latter requiring a state mandated two-thirds vote.

By including the other items in the measure, along with the infrastructure repairs, only a majority vote is required (50 percent plus one).

If the measure passes, the future tax revenue would go into the general fund and the city can spend the money on anything it desires.

“Money raised by Measure I will go directly into the ground for repairs throughout La Mirada,” says Mayor Gabe Garcia. “Both a twenty-nine member Citizen Task Force and the entire La Mirada City Council have strongly supported Measure I,” Garcia added. “The City Council is committed to making sure every dollar is spent as intended to repair roads, sewers and other infrastructure in La Mirada.”

City Manager Tom Robinson agreed with Mayor Garcia and Councilmember Jones, “The reality is that La Mirada needs additional funding in the coming years to make necessary infrastructure repairs. If the City doesn’t have funding to make repairs in a planned and orderly manner, we will face more costly, emergency repairs that will take resources from other services.”

The revenue was originally expected to generate $8-10 million annually or around $45-50 million for the five year period. However, a recent study by the city tax consultant revealed the revenue was miscalculated, and the city will only receive $4-5 million annually instead, generating $20-25 million total, and falling short of the $67 million total needed.

Still, despite the controversial language of the measure and the miscalculation of the funds that will be ultimately received, “the money is needed”, said Hal Malkin.

Malkin also served on City Council from 1994-2011 and is a leading proponent for the political action committee, La Mirada Citizens for Measure I.

“Pete and I definitely agree on one thing, we need the money. We need funds that we can control.”

“Philosophically, perhaps we could have presented this differently, and just specified one item (in the ballot language), but it’s a real world out there. The community needs the money, end of story.”

Malkin indicated if the measure fails, it will come back again in the March 2013 municipal election, with Dames and him working together on it.

The city declared a fiscal emergency in April of this year and a citizen’s task force was formed twice in the last three years to study the issue.



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