Barger casts lone vote opposing property tax measure

FILE PHOTO Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger speaks at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.
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County supervisors Tuesday approved putting a measure on the November ballot that would increase property taxes to pay for stormwater-runoff and water-pollution measures on residential and commercial properties.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone no vote in the 4-1 decision.

The “Safe, Clean Water Program” funding measure is meant to bolster efforts to recapture and re-use runoff, said county 3rd District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored the measure.

The measure would help fund new systems to capture and reduce water runoff and runoff pollution across different cities, according to the agenda. Barger dissented, listing the cities she oversees whose budgets would be wiped out by the property tax. She added that with raising fees and talks about affordable housing won’t be helped by a rising parcel tax to reserve water.

The move puts a parcel tax to the ballot, which is expected to generate $300 million a year on properties “located within the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, to fund projects and programs to increase stormwater capture and reduce stormwater and urban runoff pollution,” said Celia Zavala, acting executive officer, according to a live broadcast of the meeting available on the county Board of Supervisors website.

“So we’re facing twin problems that are really sort of growing and becoming exacerbated,” said Kuehl. “Water quality — keeping it at the highest possible quality — and sufficient local water supplies.”

The measure, however, will add a 2.5 cent tax per square foot of property surface area for homeowners and business owners, according to BizFed, one of the opponents of the measure.

Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said she has followed the matter for well over two years.

“Because Santa Clarita is always kind of ahead of the curve and initiated a stormwater program, the way this reads, residents will be punished,” she said Wednesday.

McLean said she supports Barger’s stance, and has met with stakeholders about the issue. On top of adding more money to what residents and business owners pay in property taxes, residents and homeowners should be educated about what the measure entails, McLean said.

“Cities need to have control over what’s going on in their own cities,” she added.

Santa Clarita City Council has no formal position on the stormwater measure, but it is a topic that’s been discussed for some time, McLean said.

Now voters will have a chance to weigh in on the discussion at the polls Nov. 6.

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