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Citrus Heights council votes 3-1 to support ‘Taxpayer Protection Act’

Nick Bloise, with the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, speaks to the Citrus Heights City Council on Oct. 26, 2023.

By Phillip Pesola–
The Citrus Heights City Council last week voted to support the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act of 2024, an initiative that has qualified for the ballot next year that would increase the requirements for passing certain new state and local taxes.

Ryan Jones, the city attorney, briefly explained the initiative during the council’s Oct. 26 meeting, stating that it would define all state and local levies, charges, and fees as taxes, limit what can be charged by the city for a service to no more than the actual cost of the service, and provide guidelines for information presented to voters when a new tax is on the ballot.

The amendment would add a requirement of a simple majority of voters to pass a new state tax, in addition to the current two-thirds of the state legislature needed. It would also require two-thirds of voters to approve new local special taxes, rather than the current requirement of a simple majority.

Advocates say the amendment is needed to combat the rising cost of living and “give voters the final decision on raising all state and local taxes,” but opponents express concern about how the amendment is worded.

During public comment held prior to the council’s vote, Charles Anderson, representing the League of California Cities, asked the council to consider all implications before supporting the proposal. He said that the language of the initiative indicates that the city would become responsible for demonstrating that the costs of its services were as low as possible, potentially opening the city to lawsuits relating to disagreements over what costs are the “minimum amount necessary.” 

He went on to point out that a number of large corporations and law firms have funded the campaign in support of the act, and questioned whether they did so in the interest of the community, or their own profits. He urged the council to vote against supporting it, or to at least take more time to consider it.

Nick Bloise of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association spoke in favor of the initiative, saying that “a two-thirds vote ensures genuine bipartisan community consensus.”

Following public comments, Councilmember MariJane Lopez-Taff advocated in favor of holding off on endorsing the ballot proposition, saying, “I believe this is going to be written and rewritten several times before the actual ballot comes to vote.”

Vice Mayor Bret Daniels expressed strong support, stating that the initiative will help to hold legislators accountable and give voters more control over new taxes. In response to Lopez-Taff’s concern, he said the council’s support could be withdrawn at a later date in the event the wording of the initiative were to change.

Before calling for a vote, Mayor Tim Schaefer also voiced his desire to support the initiative without delay.

“I know it’s a year away, but it takes a long time to get the word out,” said Schaefer, who initially proposed putting the resolution in support of the act on the agenda. “There’s a good reason that all of our public officials that are running for election next year are already campaigning.”

The council voted to pass the resolution, officially stating support for the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, with Mayor Schaefer, Vice Mayor Daniels, and Councilmember Karpinski-Costa in support, Councilmember Lopez-Taff opposing, and Councilmember Porsche Middleton absent.

A copy of the initiative and the council’s resolution can be found in the Oct. 26 agenda packet on the city’s website. The nonpartisan California Legislative Analysts Office summary of the initiative can be viewed online here.

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