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Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 8, 2005 Election
Measure H
Public Safety Improvements; Financing
City of Signal Hill

1,035 / 44.75% Yes votes ...... 1,278 / 55.25% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 28 4:37pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (3/3)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City of Signal Hill impose a tax of 3% on charges for electric, gas, water and other utility services (with exemptions for seniors and low income households) for a period of no more than 15 years to finance and construct a new, modernized police station in the City of Signal Hill and to pay for police equipment and other related costs?

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney David J. Aleshire
This measure, if adopted, would establish a temporary utility user's tax of up to three percent (3%). The revenue would be used solely to finance and construct a new, modernized Police Station in the City of Signal Hill and to pay for police equipment and related costs.

The current Police Station was built in 1960 and the police force has doubled since that time. In 2001 and 2004, two citizen committees studied the need for a new Police Station. Each committee concluded a new Police Station was necessary, citing problems including inadequate working space for current personnel, lack of space for evidence storage, antiquated cabling and electrical systems, and outdated technological facilities.

The City Council has also decided to hire six new officers over the next three years (two per year), which after three years is expected to cost $784,000 annually. This will be funded from on-going revenue, not from this tax. However, the additional officers may compound the space problem.

A new, modernized Police Station will cost an estimated $12 million. The City is allocating $2.5 million of existing reserves, plus a City-owned site valued at $1 million. However, this still leaves a shortfall of approximately $10 million. Annual revenue expected from the tax is approximately $1.3 million. At current interest rates, this should raise $12-13 million by publicly issued bonds, and construction could commence within the next 12-18 months.

This measure is being proposed as a special tax. Under Proposition 218, a 2/3 vote is required. As a special tax, the revenue shall be placed in a special fund and spent only for the special purposes set forth in the ordinance. This measure limits expenditures to the cost of constructing and equipping the Police Station. This includes not only direct construction costs, but also design, engineering, architectural and similar costs. It also includes the cost of law enforcement equipment, both inside and outside the facility, such as police vehicles. However, police officers' salaries and personnel costs are not included.

The tax includes exemptions for senior citizen households of 65 years of age or older and for low income households. Upon adoption, the Council shall define these catagories, as well as to adopt other provisions to implement the special tax. Such provisions must be consistent with the ordinance as approved by the Signal Hill voters. This measure also requires preparation of an annual report updating residents on the status of the project and funding.

The utility tax covers all utilities including gas, electricity, water, telephone, cable services and is estimated to add $12.60 per month to a typical utility bill (of $420). The tax is automatically repealed in 15 years, or earlier if the Police Station is fully funded before that time.

If adopted by the voters, this measure would take effect ten days after the declaration of the election results by the City Council.

  Official Information

City of Signal Hill
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Arguments For Measure H Arguments Against Measure H
Public safety is the top priority in Signal Hill. Signal Hill is a safe place to live, because we have a first-class Police Department. However, we have an old, overcrowded Police Station. We need a new, modernized Police Station to bring us into the 21st Century. Maintaining a safe community is critical to Signal Hill remaining an expectional place to live. The City Council and City Treasurer unanimously favor a 3% Utility Users' Tax to finance a bond and pay for the immediate construction of a new Police Station.

  • Signal Hill's utility tax would be the lowest in the region.
  • The tax is temporary and will last no longer than 15 years.
  • Seniors and low-income households are exempted.
  • The estimated average costs would be $3 per week for single-family and condominium owners. The tax will be levied on commercial, industrial and residential electric, natural gas, water, telephone and cable television bills.
  • The existing Station was built for 25 officers in the 1960's and is severely overcrowded for our force of 48.
  • The existing Station lacks a sufficient Emergency Operations Center, does not comply with disability and earthquake standards, and cannot be renovated.
  • A Blue Ribbon Citizen's Committee studied the Police Department's needs and endorses a 3% utility tax to fund a $10 million bond issue for new Station construction.
  • The measure includes strict accountability and annual financial audits. The tax can ONLY be used to repay the bond and provide Station equipment.

The Council is committed to public safety and is adding new police officers. The City cannot afford to add more officers and build a new Station at the same time. This bond and utility tax plan makes sense. Help ensure the continued safety of our community by voting YES on Measure H.

Signed by: Edward H.J. Wilson, Mayor
Larry Forester, Vice Mayor
Tina L. Hansen, Council Member
Michael J. Noll, Council Member
Ellen Ward, Council Member

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The City Council is trying to make this tax hike about public safety. Public safety is not the issue. Citizens opposing the tax hike support public safety.

What residents and small business owners oppose is the unfairness of a utility tax that will hit them hard and disproportionately. Big businesses like Home Depot and thousands of shoppers receiving police services will not pay their fair share for a new police station. The council has reserved the right to exempt commercial and industrial business and tax additional utilities as it sees fit.

Signal Hill can remain a safe place to live without becoming an unfair place to live.

The city has $46M in cash reserves with $7M already set aside for a new police station. For 10 years, this council ignored paying for a new police station.

Just because City Council supports a 3% utility tax doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. A utility tax hike is just the council's way of paying for poor planning, and, the utility tax action was decided without any public comment. When you hear of a tax of $3 a week, remember your cable TV bill jumped from $25 to $75 a month in the past 15 years. More utility increases are inevitable.

The council tells you this tax will be temporary, but 15 years is a long time for you to pay for bungled government.

Vote NO on the UNFAIR 3% utility tax.

Signed by: Carol Churchill, former Council Member/Mayor
J.E. Neff, former Council Member/Mayor
Louis Dare, former Council Member/Mayor
Nick A. Mekis, former Council Member/Mayor
Maria Harris, Ph.D. Public Administration

Does Signal Hill need a new police station? Yes!

Do we need to pay for it with a sweeping new utility tax? No!

This Tax Is Unfair To Homeowners. This 3% tax will most likely affect ALL homeowner's utilities (gas, water, electric, cable, telephones, cell phones and computer connections) for at least 15 years. Big businesses and thousands of visitors receive police services and usually pay their fair share through "sales tax revenues". This utility tax will hit residents and small businesses hard and disproportionately.

We Can Build Our Police Station Without New Taxes. Signal Hill voters don't need to tax themselves to build a new $11 Million police station. The City presently has $46 Million in cash reserves (over $8.5 Million cash and land already set aside) and it receives $14 Million a year in "sales tax revenues" from major businesses.

Public Discussion Has Been Stifled. This utility tax hike proposition grew out of closed-door sessions run by the Council's handpicked "Blue Ribbon Committee".

Citizens Are Being Deliberately Kept in the Dark about:

  • Exactly what utilities will be taxed?
  • Why the Council needs $13 Million when it already has over $8.5 Million to cover the projected cost of $11 Million for a new station?
  • Which big businesses and special interests will be tax-exempt?
  • Why the Council ignored its own consultant's findings that the City could construct a police station using existing cash reserves?
  • Why the City has not invested in new police officers and facilities over the past 10 years when the need was there and the cost for building and recruitment were less? This tax is not about public safety. It's about tax and spend.

Vote NO on the utility tax increase.

It's not necessary, not fair, and not in the people's best interest.

Signed by: Carol A. Churchill, former Council Member/Mayor
John E. Neff, former Council Member/Mayor
Nick A. Mekis, former Mayor/Council Member
Louis Dare, former Mayor/Council Member
Maria Harris, Ph.D. Public Administration

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
We, fellow residents of Signal Hill, love everything about living in our city, especially the emphasis on public safety. We have a first-class police department that keeps our families safe, allowing us to enjoy all Signal Hill has to offer. Unfortunately, our officers are no longer safe, forced to work in a building that they have outgrown.

Built in the 1960's, this building does not comply with current earthquake or disability access standards and is so overcrowded that closets are used as offices. We cannot expect our officers to fight 21st century crime in this setting.

No one likes new taxes. However, by voting YES on Measure H and agreeing to a TEMPORARY utility tax, we can partner with our city to provide our police a new building and state-of-the-art equipment.

Our city is not asking the residents to pay the entire cost of the new police station. Businesses will also pay this utility tax. Plus our city is contributing cash and land to the project and intends to hire six new officers.

The city cannot use all of its reserve accounts to pay for a new police station. Not only are most of these monies restricted as to use, but our city needs to continue to be fiscally responsible and maintain savings should a disaster or economic downturn occur.

Our police department has given us so much. It is our turn to give something back to them. Please join us and vote YES on Measure H.

Signed by:

Stefanie Camacho, Southeast resident/teacher
Jane Fallon, resident/Treasurer of Committee of Public Safety
Albert Warot, Blue Ribbon Committee, resident
James Eleopoulos, Signal Hill Business Owner/ resident
Emerson J. Fersch, CFP, CbFC, CLU, CASL, City Treasurer

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Created: January 28, 2006 14:42 PST
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