The general tax measure would bring in $15 million annually
By Dolores Quintana
Council member Phil Brock called Mayor Sue Himmelrich’s recent transfer tax measure she’s trying to put on the ballot “outrageous” and countered with her own measure, as reported by The Santa Monica Outlook.
In a statement, Brock said, “I am aware that an initiative measure is circulating in the city to increase the transfer tax, which would provide additional funding to the school district and establish new sources of funding for grants to the rent and affordable housing. And I said during our meeting that while these are certainly laudable goals, they do not address the most pressing concerns of our residents. I also believe that a new tax rate proposed in this measure which is 800% of the existing tax is unfair to many residents and property owners.
Himmelrich’s measure aims to raise some $50 million in taxes to address various city issues that require more funding. Brock’s proposal, which is being considered by the city council, appears to bring in much less, namely $15 million. Brock’s proposal is also a general tax instead of a transfer tax.
Both of these proposals are made because the City of Santa Monica’s revenue sources will not be enough to cover the city’s expenses, even with the addition of the hotel room tax. Brock noted this in his statement and added, “I spend a lot of time listening to residents and it’s clear to me that the most important things we can do to address current concerns is to increase levels of emergency response services in programs operated by our public safety officers, such as the police department’s homeless liaison program and the fire department’s critical response unit, which both operate on a limited basis today, and bring back essential services reduced during the pandemic such as library services, park maintenance and after-school programs. »
Brock’s counter-proposal, the “comprehensive property tax measure,” is something that Brock says would “provide us with a safety valve at no huge cost,” as quoted by the Santa Monica Outlook.
Choosing to take its measure on the ballot, Himmelrich’s “Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing and Schools” is expected to obtain the valid signatures of 6,929 Santa Monica voters to be added to the ballot in November. By comparison, Brock’s proposal only needs the votes of four city council members.
Either measure only needs a majority of votes on the ballot to pass. If both measures are approved by more than 50% of voters, the one with the highest percentage of votes will be the winner.
The biggest difference between the two measures is that Brock’s measure would charge a real estate transfer tax of $15 per $1,000 of the sale price of a commercial property that sells for more than $8 million compared Himmelrich’s proposal that would charge $53 per $1,000 for every commercial property that sells for $8 million or more and tax the entire transaction.
Himmelrich’s proposal would have exclusions for restricted deed affordable housing. Brock’s proposal excludes nonprofits, sales involving charitable or religious organizations, “defective acts” and inherited properties.
Brock’s proposal would give the disposition of funds raised to the city council, while Himmelrich’s proposal would appoint a council to distribute funds that would be guided by a formula that is already stated in the measure itself.
This formula states that 20% of the funds or the first 10 million would be distributed to Santa Monica schools, 30-50% would go to fund construction of housing for the homeless, and another 30-50% would go to subsidize rents. low-income families or renters in Santa Monica.
If the funds raised exceed 50% million, then that excess would be deposited into two different funds, as prescribed by the 20-80% formula.
Himmelrich’s measure reads, “It is just, fair and just” that property owners who have “enjoyed the benefits of city services and programs” should “leave a small portion of the proceeds to the city to help fund “targeted programs”.
Himmelrich was sidelined by illness at the city council meeting where Brock made his proposal, so the council members who were present asked staff to draft Brock’s measure for consideration. A number of council members said Mayor Himmelrich’s proposal was ‘uncertain to make the vote,’ as quoted by the Santa Monica Outlook.
Himmelrich announced that his campaign for the measure will submit signed ballot petitions to the City Clerk by mid-June. The City Clerk will then have thirty days to verify the signatures and send the petitions to the office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, who will then have an additional 30 days to conduct another signature verification which is a random sampling of the signatures .
Himmelrich and Brock have until Aug. 12 to complete the process to place a measure on the ballot according to City Clerk Denise Anderson. Anderson said, quoted by the Outlook“Board should bring (Brock’s measure) back no later than the second July meeting,”