Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hi, I am Curious John Newhall and...

When I opened my mail last month I found a "ballot" from the City of Santa Clarita. (Actually there were seven basic ballots that were sent out.) It seemed straightforward---if I voted YES, my property taxes, (well maybe not technically my property taxes but something like taxes), were going to increase to $59.89 from $0.00.

Well, we should all do our part... But what was I going to get?

After looking at the "ballot package" I was more confused. I then checked the
Landscape Maintenance Districts Modification link the City had put up on the internet regarding the subject. A couple didn't work, (they are now fixed), but found myself more confused than ever. So I sent an email to the City, and then many more.

First, I want to make it clear that Mr. Dennis Luppens who answered me for the City, was always prompt and courteous. He really did try to answer me completely as he could. Almost every word between he and I are at the bottom, and you can see he really did try.

But in the end I was convinced, after a little figuring, that there was really no way that I or anyone else could vote
 NO, and have that be the result. Almost mathematically impossible...

I have talked to a few people about this, but as luck would have it I got the email of a man named Jim Farley. Now Jim and I have never actually met face to face. But we did exchange some ideas about this ballot. And it seems Jim is a whiz with a spreadsheet. Now my rather simpleminded "what if" at the left, tells me you can't vote this thing down. But after I saw what Jim came up with his spreadsheet, (See Jim Farley's Spreadsheet.) I was pretty much convinced that voting NO would never work.

The "weighting" of the ballots means that it is very unlikely this measure can be voted down. Most people who got ballots will vote YES.

Why will they do this? Because by doing so, the majority or weighted majority of voters or parcels or Equivalent Benefit Units, will save a few bucks next year. But most voters won't know this.

Why don't they know this? Not everyone even got a ballot, and not everyone who did get a ballot got the same ballot, or in some cases ballots were very different. A
 YES vote on my ballot means I am happy to pay another sixty bucks a year, while my neighbors across Lyons Avenue will save a few dollars when they vote YES.  And they will not know they are voting to raise a neighbor's taxes. They will only know that they will save a little themselves, and that's a good thing.

Also, the letters that went along  (actually there were five different ones) with the ballots were not the same. Why were they not the same? Because what the money collected for each parcel was not the same, and  something called that Equivalent Benefit Unit came into play. So the letters had to be a little different you see. Just as the ballots had to be a little different. There were a lot of possible combinations. This spreadsheet, provided by the City, will give you an idea of how many combinations there might be. Also, I think everyone got one of these, which more or less does, or does not explain everything. And for even more information, you can check out the City Council Agenda Report.

But anyway, that doesn't matter,--- we all got to vote
 YES or NO, more or less. If we got a ballot, opened our mail, and sent in our ballot on time.

But not exactly...because like I said not everyone in our fare City, actually got a ballot. Why didn't they get a ballot? Sorry I am still confused about that. I think it has to do whether or not you are affected or effected. Someone suggested I should be wearing a tin hat, so I think I am affected.
But the research goes on...And I promise to get back to you later.

And later will be even after the vote is in, City Council passes the final resolution, and Council Members start bragging how they even lowered
 some peoples taxes.
OMG, aren't they a good bunch?

In the meantime, Jim Farley has tried his hand at a bit of fiction. Well I think it is fiction. Take a look...
The Godfather and Santa Clarita Property Tax.

I'll try to figure out what a EMU or EBU is, and get back to you.