Take your pick: Two property transfer tax proposals approved for November ballot

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Santa Monica voters will have a few options when it comes to taxing high-end real estate transactions in the November 2022 ballot.

The first option will charge $57 per $1,000 of value for real estate transactions in town, on properties worth $8 million or more. The measure would continue in perpetuity until a future city council decides to remove it.

The second option will charge $25 per $1,000 of value, also for real estate transactions worth $8 million or more. This tax measure would expire after 10 years, with an optional extension for another five years if a supermajority of council agrees to the extension in the eighth year.

Each of these options is a “third tier” above the already existing document transfer taxes of $3 per $1,000 of value on properties valued at less than $5 million and $6 per $1,000 of value on properties valued at $5 million or more.

And there is always the third option: vote “no” on both and maintain the status quo.

The two competing measures sparked frustration with City Council, which voted to approve both for the midterm ballot despite disagreements.

With the first option, which was put on the ballot via an initiative petition signed by at least 6,930 residents, the parameters of how the revenues are to be spent are firmly established: the money collected is earmarked for “the homelessness prevention, affordable housing and schools”. The money allocated to the schools would stay in Santa Monica in case the current school district is split.

The second option, written by the members of the municipal council, is less fixed. While this would come with an advisory measure allowing residents to have a say in how the revenue is spent, all funds raised would go to the City’s general fund and not be tied up in specific funds or programs.

Despite this, council members have spent hours over the past few weeks determining how they would like the money for this proposed measure to be spent.

The final list of priorities for the tax measure boiled down to:

“Provide that at least 30% of the funds be allocated to housing assistance”

“Services to Address Homelessness and Behavioral Health”

“Public Safety and Emergency Response Teams to Respond to Safety Issues on City Streets and Parks”

“Reopen and Staff Santa Monica Public Libraries”

“Offer after-school programs to public school children”

“Brigadiers near public schools”

Most council members expressed confidence that funds allocated to specific interests would indeed be returned to them, despite the example of school-directed tax revenues being redirected to the city’s general fund during the COVID-19 crisis. .

“You can always say, ‘Well, an advisory measure is just an advisory measure,’ but I think that absent this issue and it happened because of COVID, this city honored the wishes, if you will, of the electorate and continued to spend the money as advised, if you will, under these advisory measures,” council member Gleam Davis said.

Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich, the lone dissenting voice against this latest measure and one of the sponsors of the first option, the initiative’s petition – officially called the Homelessness Prevention Funding Measure, Housing affordable and schools – called the second option a “slush fund”. for the town council to hang ornaments on their special little town council tree.

Both measures will appear in the November 8, 2022 ballot, alongside a measure to establish a business license tax for cannabis-related businesses and another to increase the transitional occupancy tax – hotel tax – across the board. the city.

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