California Proposition 218, Voter Approval Required Before Local Tax Increases (1996)
Proposition 218 was a proposition in the state of California on the November 5, 1996 ballot. Prop 218 significantly changed local government finance.
Prop 218 amended the California Constitution (Articles XIIIC and XIIID) which, as it relates to assessments, requires the local government to have a vote of the affected property owners for any proposed new or increased assessment before it could be levied. The Proposition was passed by California voters on November 5, 1996, and the assessments portion placed in effect on July 1, 1997.
In the past, the cities were not required to obtain ballot approval from the property owners before levying street lighting assessments; only council approval was required, even if there were significant protests.
Text of the proposal
The language that appeared on the ballot:
- Limits authority of local governments to impose taxes and property-related assessments, fees, and charges. Requires majority of voters approve increases in general taxes and reiterates that two-thirds must approve special tax. - Assessments, fees, and charges must be submitted to property owners for approval or rejection, after notice and public hearing. - Assessments are limited to the special benefit conferred. - Fees and charges are limited to the cost of providing the service and may not be imposed for general governmental services available to the public.
Summary of Legislative Analyst's Estimate of Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact: - Short-term local government revenue losses of more than $100 million annually. - Long-term local government revenue losses of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars annually. - Local government revenue losses generally would result in comparable reductions in spending for local public services.
- November 1996 California election results (PDF)
- Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency v. Verjil
- Understanding Prop 218 from the Legislative Analyst's Office
- FAQ from the City of Los Angeles
- League of Women Voters analysis
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