Re: Prop 15
For over 40 years, Proposition 13 has protected Californians from uncontrolled property tax increases. This November, Californians will vote on a plan to eliminate Proposition 13 protections for many business properties. Proposition 15 promises new revenue for local schools and services, but in fact, communities like ours would be disproportionately harmed by the measure.
As a rural county, we would suffer more harm and enjoy fewer benefits than people in Los Angeles or the Bay Area. I understand this firsthand as a local farmer and as a former Yuba City councilmember.
Here in Sutter County we rank in the top ten in the nation in the production of plums, peaches, rice, and tomatoes. In all, almost 90 percent of Sutter County land is devoted to farming or grazing. If Proposition 15 passes, agricultural property including barns, trees, and vines would be subject to new taxes. As a walnut farmer with 80 acres, I am just one of many local farmers who would be impacted. Raising taxes on farmers also means higher food prices for consumers at the store.
It’s easy to understand how elected leaders could find the potential of $12 billion in new revenue alluring. We all want better educational opportunities for our local students and a multitude of other worthy priorities – public safety services like police and fire, roads, libraries, and parks – all could use additional funding.
However, according to a study by the California Assessors Association, small and rural communities like ours may not even come out ahead after new administrative costs, which the organization estimated at over $1 billion statewide over the first three years.
With raising taxes counterproductive to both the local economy and to local government revenue how does our community deal with the hard times we’ve now found ourselves in? As we did when I was on the City Council, active business-friendly leadership can attract new jobs and smart zoning can help drive growth. And we can invest in our law enforcement and firefighters to send a message that Sutter County is a safe place to work, to shop and to live.
Finally, as we see more and more of our friends, neighbors, and local business owners leaving California due to high costs and taxes, we also should be concerned about how the dismantling of Proposition 13 protections for business properties could lead to rolling back these same protections for homeowners.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal stated, “taxing businesses is just the first step in the full dismantling of Proposition 13.”