COMPTON, CALIFORNIA—-A coalition of citizen groups from Compton announced their opposition to the passage of Measure P, an initiative advertised to repair city streets that will raise the sales tax in the city by one percent, from nine to ten percent, to the highest sales tax level in the state.
The Citizens Against Measure P grass root group is fighting with just $1500 dollars in contributions against a rumored war chest of tens of thousands made up of city funds and donations from outside influencers. Passage of Measure P means Compton low and middle income residents with a median family household income of just $44,000 will be forced to pay the highest sales tax level ever in Compton, Los Angeles County, and the state. If county transportation Measure R2 passes in November, Compton would then automatically move to 10.5%, the highest sales tax level ever in the history of California. Compton will become one of only three out of 88 cities in Los Angeles County and eight out of 482 cities currently in the state to be at the maximum allowable state limit of ten percent. In their David versus Goliath effort, Citizens Against Measure P is joined by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and Congresswoman Maxine Waters in calling for the defeat of Measure P.
“Compton homeowners like me for years have already paid some of the highest property taxes in Los Angeles County with little to show for our money,” stated Marie Hollis, a sixty-year resident and President of the Concerned Citizens of Compton. “Now all Compton residents are being asked to increase their own sales taxes to a county and state record high when many in the city are economically distressed and barely making it, and others are again asking questions about how money in Compton is being spent or misspent by even this current administration. We have a legitimate historical reason in Compton to be concerned.”
While the Measure will not increase property taxes, Compton property and home owners already complain of paying the third highest property tax in Los Angeles County out of 88 cities, another state high, while the business community complains Measure P will makes them less competitive with surrounding cities remaining at nine percent.
“Businesses located in the City of Compton will be negatively impacted,” according to Royce Esters, a long-time Compton businessman and owner of Esters Tax Service. “Almost every city surrounding us will be at 9% and we will be at 10%. Can you imagine the difference one percent makes on big ticket items for business? This tax is not a penny as advertised, it is one percent and it makes a tremendous difference to small and large businesses located in Compton.”
Citizens Against Measure P also point out the measure falsely advertises one cent versus one percent; has no sunset date making it a Forever Tax; provides no written plan, budget, or details for citizens to review; and misleads and capitalizes on the desire of residents in Compton to see their streets repaired by saddling them with a political wish list of non-related extras. The group expressed heightened concern that instead of specifically earmarking the new funds in a separate account mandated for street repairs only, Measure P will place the new revenue in the city general fund, a pool of money and source of political financial misconduct in the past. Still other opponents believe Measure P is a thinly disguised city bailout plan to cover misspending and exhaustion of the city budget by the current administration.
They express concern once passed, the city can use Measure P to seek a bond or loan obligating citizens to repay millions of dollars for decades to come. Thus, the city will have avoided the two-thirds vote needed to pass a specialized bond and intense public scrutiny and apprehension about increasing debt given the 450 million in education bonds past in just the last two years. And finally, a controversy continues to rage surrounding a unanimous “no” vote cast by the Compton City Council against spending funds for informational pamphlets on Measure P, which was then overrode by the new City Manager, not fired despite public demand and uproar. Some citizens allege these acts, and the wholesale immediate removal of “Vote No on Measure P“ campaign signs placed around the city by Citizens Against MeasureP, reeks of blatant collaboration to orchestrate and assure passage of Measure P.
A recent UCLA study revealed one-third of households under $100,000 in Los Angeles County are worried about meeting their basic necessities like housing, food, and utilities. Citizens Against MeasureP is concerned about Compton residents and the cumulative and rising costs of everything having a very profound and real impact on families.
“In the last three years, the college passed a 100 million dollar bond in 2014, the school district passed a 350 million bond in 2015, and now the city wants to pass a Forever Tax of one percent costing an infinite amount,” continued Jackie Barra, a 48-year Compton resident. “People are being asked for a penny here and there by the city, county, state and everyone else resulting in higher cost for utilities, food, rent, mortgage, transportation, and everything, taxable or not. These pennies are adding up whether you are an individual, homeowner, or business.”
The Citizens Against Measure P coalition is comprised of Compton community organizations including the Concerned Citizens of Compton Inc., the National Association for Equal Justice in America (NAEJA), and the Coalition for Integrity in Governance (CCIG).