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L.A. County Budget Tries to Account for Property Tax Shortfall

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L.A. County has unveiled a new budget filled with cuts and adjustments--but it doesn't account for many other very likely looming cash shortfalls.

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The budget details--and the details the budget hasn't yet dealt with--from the Los Angeles Times's account:

Los Angeles County officials on Monday unveiled a $22.8-billion budget for the coming fiscal year that cuts $415 million from the current budget....Although county officials want to avoid layoffs, they warned that additional cuts probably will be needed this year depending on the economy and the state budget. The budget also fails to account for a $257-million shortfall in funding for health services, which health department officials are expected to address soon....

The budget accounts for a 1% drop in property assessments, but Fujioka said recent estimates show that is expected to more than triple to 3.3% during the coming fiscal year as more homeowners appeal their assessments. As a result, the county will probably have to adjust the budget in June to account for an additional $88.3 million in lost tax revenue.

County revenues are down across the board, including deed transfer taxes (down 31.3%), sales taxes (down about 6%) and interest earnings (down 56.8%). The proposed budget does not provide for that shortfall or $103 million in state budget cuts expected next fiscal year. ["L.A. County Budget unveils $22.8 billion for next fiscal year," L.A. Times]

County supervisors will begin deliberations on the budget on June 22, after public hearings that will begin May 13.

More details on the property tax shortfalls, for L.A. county and other southern California counties, can be found in this March L.A. Times story.

Proposition 13 is often blamed for California government revenue shortfalls because it limited the amount by which property taxes can be raised year by year. But this analysis, with number charts, from the San Diego Union Tribune's blog shows that on the statewide level:

since just after 13 took effect, total property tax revenue has increased 503 percent. During the same span, population has gone from 24 million to 38 million -- an increase of 58 percent. And over the same time span as the revenue data above, the Consumer Price Index -- which gauges inflation -- went from 88 to 203, a 131 percent increase.

So property tax revenue has gone up by more than double the combined rate of population increase and inflation since 13 took effect.

Lots of country budget documents and numbers available from the County itself at this site.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Davidagalvan. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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