To make the statement that there are factions who don't like each other on the Newport Beach City Council is probably the understatement of the year. One can only hope that those who are elected to represent the taxpayers will put their personal feelings aside and do the work of the people. Sadly, at the June 14, 2016 council meeting, Flag Day ironically, that was not the case.
In 1986, voters in California passed the Voter Approval of Taxes Act, Proposition 62. This requires that all proposals for new or higher general taxes first needs to be approved by two-thirds of the local agency's governing board. Also stated is that the method of collecting the tax and the proposed use of the tax revenue must be thoroughly explained to the taxpayers. In Newport Beach, it passed with 58% of the vote.
But, because of a loophole in the law, it doesn't apply to proposed tax measures in Newport Beach. The requirement to have a higher threshold of the city council vote affirmatively before a measure to increase taxes goes on a ballot only applies to General Law Cities, not Charter Cities.
One year ago, at the May 26, 2015, Newport Beach City Council meeting, a resolution was passed, unanimously, to place The Newport Beach Taxpayer Protection Act Charter Amendment on the ballot in November of 2016 to bring the city into compliance with Proposition 62, something the voters had already approved 30 years ago. Because of this action, the Orange County Taxpayers Association nominated the city council for one of their yearly awards honoring those entities that are friends to the taxpayers. We assumed, wrongly it appears, that this was a done deal.
Sadly, on June 14, the last possible meeting date to pull a measure off the upcoming ballot and one year after their affirmative vote, four Newport Beach council members (Mayor Diane Dixon and council members Scott Peotter, Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon) decided to combine Prop 62 compliance with a new issue relating to bond debt and pulled the Charter Amendment off the ballot, sending it to the city's finance committee for further review.
With comments like, "it needs to be vetted by the finance committee," the majority ignores the fact that the voters of Newport Beach already vetted it in 1986.
I invite Newport Beach taxpayers to watch the video of the June 14, 2016 council meeting. The personal political gymnastics are appalling. OCTax will spend the time to research this new bond debt issue and hopefully will be able to support it, but we cannot agree that combining issues and putting at risk a fundamental Proposition 13 protection that was already passed by the voters is a good thing.
Newport Beach taxpayers should be concerned that the council majority waited for one year and until the last possible moment to raise concerns and pull the Proposition 62 compliance measure, with no chance of being "vetted" in time to be placed on the ballot.
Taxpayers of charter cities deserve to have the same taxpayer protections as general law cities. Sadly, the taxpayers of Newport Beach will now have to wait to see if their city council agrees.