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The Board of Directors of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation recently evaluated two L.A. County ballot measures that impose new taxes: Measure M, which adds a half-cent to the current sales tax for transportation improvements, and Measure A, which increases property taxes for park improvements.

The discussion of each couldn’t have been more different.

First off, let me say that the SCVEDC Board of Directors is an amazing group of business and civic leaders who are committed to the future economic vitality of the SCV. These dedicated individuals give their time, talent and treasure to support that goal.

But their agreement on the importance of economic development doesn’t mean they agree on all things, and certainly not on proposals for new taxes, and this reality showed itself during the debate on Measure M.

You can probably see the different perspectives on Measure M in the opinion pages of this paper – Supervisor Antonovich supports the measure, yet The Signal Editorial Board chose to oppose it.

After a lengthy debate, the SCVEDC board voted to support Measure M. Let me explain a few of the key reasons why:

1) Transportation connectivity on I-5 is critical for our businesses and our residents. Most of the companies in our business parks do business with companies all over the world. They transport materials in and finished products out.

They need access to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and to the rest of the country. All of this access converges on Newhall Pass. Without a solution to alleviate traffic on I-5, our economic development prospects dim.

2) The SCV will receive more than its money’s worth in benefits. Financial analyses of the measure predict that 94 percent of the sales tax generated from the SCV will be spent on projects directly affecting the SCV.

Creation of the I-5 HOV lane is the most significant project, but dollars will also help improve local roads.

Since about half of workers leave the SCV for jobs elsewhere in L.A. County, tax dollars spent on projects in other parts of the County will also benefit SCV residents.

3) SCV’s priority project, I-5 improvement, is at the top of the list. The I-5 HOV lanes finish a decade-long effort to expand capacity over Newhall Pass. The project is currently under design and if Measure M passes, construction will begin as soon as that design work is complete in 2019.

Through a long, inclusive process, Metro respected the priorities and needs of sub-regions in the county and designed a project list accordingly.

4) The measure is subject to stiff accountability. There is an oversight committee and annual audits that will be made public. Plus the measure requires that the funds be used for transportation projects, so no siphoning-off of dollars for other uses.

Those concerned about the measure were most worried that the promises made in the measure to finish the I-5 project would be unfulfilled, a concern similar to that expressed by the Signal Editorial Board.

To alleviate these concerns, SCVEDC secured a personalized letter from Metro CEO Phil Washington assuring us that, should Measure M pass, the project would be fully funded without toll lanes.

This letter, addressed to me, specifically states that the project “is scheduled to commence construction in 2019. If Measure M passes, the construction project will be fully funded.”

I ask you to vote Yes on Measure M.

The conversation by the SCVEDC board on Measure A had a different tone entirely. Measure A was hastily put on the ballot following the Independence Day holiday.

This measure would add a 1.5-cent-per-square-foot parcel tax on all property in the county. The owner of a 2,000-square-foot home would see a tax increase of $30 a year, which will adjust upward each year with the cost of living.

The money will be spent based on a needs assessment of which areas need the most park improvements.

It’s not surprising that the Santa Clarita Valley, which has made creating parks a significant part of its development plan, is not a priority for funding. The tax will burden SCV residents and businesses without providing much value to our region.

The SCVEDC board conversation on this proposal was relatively straightforward: this measure is not fair in its assessment of tax or its spending plan.

I ask you to vote No on Measure A.

Holly Schroeder is president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.

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  • noonan

    If it costs me a penny, I vote no. Even if it doesn’t cost me a penny, like the cig tax, I vote no! Naturally there will me many worthless CA citizens that will vote yes either because they don’t have to pay or because they are idiots.

    The state with the highest income tax, sales tax, tax on this and tax on that, still wants more! Oh and property taxes. I got mine yesterday and here is what I’m being taxed on:

    General levy tax
    special water
    community college
    high school
    elementary school
    solid waste
    LA County ST LT???
    Flood control
    LACO vector control
    LLAD2…because if one is good, then two is better.
    LA CO SFD?
    SCV Sanitation
    Fire dept


    • indy

      I understand your frustration with taxes . . . since politicians like to ‘dance’ around the actual costs to provide people with the services they both ‘demand and expect’ from government.

      And make no mistake, as the population of CA continues to grow, existing infrastructure will have to be expanded to satisfy same.

      And while many have ‘mocked’ the ‘population’ issue since it was exposed in 1968 with the publication of the ‘Population Bomb’, most of what the author wrote is now coming to pass.

      Global population still grows by some 75 million net per year or so flooding global labor market pushing wages down even here in the US . . . at the same time jobs are off shored by multinational corporations to leverage the wage differential to increase their profits . . . all the while property prices are increasing from economic scarcity created by population growth.

      So your skepticism is understandable . . . and the only response by our leaders is recitations of outdated ‘folklore’ . . . and using the tangled mess of various tax assessments as you’ve noted to fund government.

      And it’s get even more interesting with politicians advocating the ‘child tax credit’ that only further encourages population growth . . .

      In any event, taxes are not ‘theft’ . . . they are foundation of democracy to build the schools your children go to . . . to construct the roads you drive on . . . to fund the police and fire and that protect you . . . creating the sewer and water systems that serve your home . . . and so on.

      So at the end of the day, the old adage of ‘there’s no free lunch’ is still in play . . . even though politicians try to hide this by saying we’ll simply ‘grow ourselves’ out of tough taxing decisions . . . which as you’ve seen, is nonsense.

      I can only suggest you explore the topic of ‘sustainability’ that address the link between population and resources and provides a realistic look at future economic growth.

      Until sustainability becomes a household term . . . we’ll be facing the ‘tax this for that’ reality . . . often times ignoring the ‘affordability’ of services we all want . . . while often ignoring the consequences of not maintaining our infrastructure consistent with the use of same by the public.

  • tech

    Transportation improvement tax? How many times will taxpayers voluntarily purchase the same promise?