Quote of the Day - There's always somebody who is paid too much, and taxed too little - and it's always somebody else.
In the City of California City in Kern County, a rather unusual situation exists. There are 4,100 voting residents, but some 50,000 parcels of property, presumably largely owned by non-residents. Add to that mix a financial shortfall in the City, and what do you get?
A tax on property.
Of course you're not going to see another type of tax that requires the individuals to pay in any other form such as income, sales or per capita. The City apparently needed to raise over $3,000,000 to fund services, so it proposed to its voters that they approve a $75.00 per parcel tax. All the City needed was a two-thirds majority for the tax to go into effect.
Needless to say, the nonresidents were not happy, and they sued.
They claimed that the tax violated Article III A of the California Constitution (Prop 13), that the tax was actually an ad valorem tax and not a special tax (the latter is allowed under the California Constitution), that the tax essentially amounted to a subsidy of local residents and that because 85 percent of those paying the tax could not vote on it because they were nonresident nonvoters. They also complained that the tax violated Propositions 62 (no imposition of a special tax) and 218 (limiting fees, assessments or charges masquerading as taxes, and requiring two-thirds voter approval).
The trial court found in favor of the nonresidents. The City appealed. The Appellate Court went on to address and dispose of each of the nonresidents' claims in turn, and overturned the trial court.
The most troubling aspect of the Appellate Court's opinion is its interpretation of the United States Constitution's requirement for one-person, one-vote. While residency is an acceptable restriction on the one-person, one-vote requirement, when the vast majority of those whose property rights are adversely affected by the tax are excluded from voting, common sense tells us that the equal protection requirements of the one-person, one-vote limitation have been violated. The Court pointed to an old opinion about nonresidents who weren't allowed to vote to determine whether they would be governed by additional city services, but that old opinion misses this mark by a country mile. Those non-voting, nonresidents received a benefit, they didn't lose one.
MIPTC's prediction? If this opinion is not overturned by the California Supreme Court (who by the way have finally adopted podcasting - in a manner of speaking), then we'll have another Proposition to straighten this situation out.