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Archive for April, 2015

Did the Court of Appeal Put A Crimp In Governor Brown’s Drought Plans?

Posted by Greg Woodard on April 22, 2015

Everyone knows California is in a long-term drought.  And most of you on here know that Governor Brown recently issued an executive order requiring Californians to reduce their water use, and water agencies are tackling the task of making that happen.

Many water suppliers either currently have, or are planning on implementing, tiered rates to deal with the water usage cuts.  However, the Court of Appeal out of Santa Ana just issued a decision that could complicate matters, and may have far-reaching implications on any future use of tiered water rates.

In 2011, the city of San Juan Capistrano adopted a new water rate structure that created four tiered water rates, with substantially higher rates as the water use increases.  The Capistrano Taxpayers Association (CTA) filed a lawsuit challenging the tiered rates as violating Proposition 218’s limit on fees that a government agency can charge for services.

The trial court agreed with the CTA and held that the rates were not compliant with Proposition 218.

The Court of Appeal agreed and upheld the trial court’s ruling.  The Court of Appeal held that Proposition 218 requires water agencies to justify their tiered rates based on the costs of service for those tiers.  Agencies cannot use legislative, discretionary power to attribute percentages of total costs to the various tiers.  In addition, the agencies must have evidence to back up their claims that the rates are tied to the costs of service.

So what does that mean for the future of tiered rates?  The Court of Appeal specifically stated that tiered rates are not prohibited by Proposition 218. However, if agencies choose to institute tiered rates, they have to do so based on the actual costs of service for those tiers.  That means that agencies cannot implement tiered rates as a penalty.

 

 

Posted in San Juan Capistrano | Leave a Comment »

Taxes Due Today, But California’s Tax Freedom Day Isn’t Until May 3

Posted by Chris Nguyen on April 15, 2015

Tax Freedom Day in Each State – California is 47th Latest on May 3 (Graphic Courtesy of the Tax Foundation)

So if you’re like me, you’ll be finishing filing your income taxes sometime tonight.  I’m glad e-file has existed since I started filing income taxes.  It’d probably be a disaster driving to one of those postmarking-until-midnight Post Offices if I had to mail in my income taxes.

In fact, there’s only one Post Office in all of Orange County that will still be postmarking mail until midnight tonight: 3101 Sunflower Ave. in Santa Ana (the retail portion closes at 7:00 PM, but they’re still postmarking mail received by midnight). For those in northwestern Orange County, you can drive into LA County before 10:00 PM because the Post Office at 2300 Redondo Blvd. in Long Beach will be postmarking mail until then.

While today is the day we literally pay our income taxes, the figurative day in which we finish paying our taxes is still nine days away nationally and eighteen days away for California.

The Tax Foundation annually calculates Tax Freedom Day, which is the day in which people have earned enough money to pay all their taxes (income, payroll, sales, property, etc.) for the year, assuming no change in income level during the course of the year.  Any income earned after Tax Freedom Day will belong to the taxpayer (again assuming no change in income level during the course of the year).

National Tax Freedom Day for 2015 is April 24, though Tax Freedom Day varies by state.

The earliest Tax Freedom Day is in Louisiana on April 2, followed by Mississippi (April 4), South Dakota (April 8), and Tennessee and Alabama (both April 9).

The latest Tax Freedom Day is in Connecticut and New Jersey (both on May 13), New York (May 8), California (May 3), and Massachusetts (May 2).

That’s right: not only is California 47th in the nation, we’re also worse than Taxachusetts.

To look at this another way, the average Louisianan celebrates Tax Freedom Day on April 2, which is 92 days into the year, or 25.2% of the way into the year.  In other words, the average Louisianan pays 25.2% of their annual income in taxes.

The average Californian celebrates Tax Freedom Day on May 3, which is 123 days into the year, or 33.7% of the way into the year.  In other words, the average Californian pays 33.7% of their annual income in taxes, 8.5% more than the average Louisianan.

All of California’s neighbors celebrate Tax Freedom Day before California does: Arizona celebrates it today (17th in the country), Nevada on April 20 (26th in the country), and Oregon on April 22 (33rd in the country).

Posted in California, U.S. Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Judge M. Marc Kelly – Let the Voters Render Their Verdict!

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on April 12, 2015

In California State Court trial judges must stand for election every six years. Whenever judges appear on the ballot I have a vast number of friends ask me which judges to vote for and which judges to vote against. Even lawyers like myself don’t always know a judge’s record on the trial court bench since their decisions are not often printed in the newspaper or on legal search engines like Lexus or West Law.  Thus it makes it hard to evaluate if the judge’s record is good or not.

I am much more likely to give a judge my vote on re-election even if I don’t agree with all of their decisions.  Being a judge is not an easy task and they work very hard to be fair to all sides in the cases before them.  They also have to handle far more cases than each of them should have too due to severe budget constraints imposed by Sacramento and limits on the number of judicial appointments which often lag far, far behind the actual need.  Plus keep in mind that the reason a case is in front of the judge in the first place is at least two parties are in disagreement and the judge (and often a jury) is called upon to decide between them.  That often means someone is a winner and the other party is the loser.  This is the judge’s job: to preside over a conflicted situation that he or she did not create.  But it is their job to make the tough decisions each day.  For these reasons I admire judges for the often difficult work they do.

However there are exceptions to this general rule and the recent sentencing of a confessed child rapist by Judge M. Marc Kelly is one of those examples.  I do not know if Judge Kelly found the rapist guilty of his crime, if a jury did that or if the rapist confessed and plead guilty, but it is the judge who decides the sentence for the convicted criminal to serve.  It is the sentence, handed down by Judge Kelly, of this rapist of a three year old to only 10 years in prison rather than 25 years to life that shocks people in our community (and apparently the nation).

The Orange County Register has been following this situation and has published its own editorial calling for Judge Kelly to resign or be recalled. Here is the link to that editorial: Time to Leave the Bench.  This follows Supervisors Todd Spitzer, Lisa Bartlett and Shawn Nelson calling on the judge to resign or be recalled.

I think the Supervisors are right to call for a recall for this simple reason:  Rather than wait until Judge Kelly would normally stand for re-election, let him now, while the issue is very much before the people via the news media, explain to the voters who are tasked with electing or re-electing him, why this sentence was legal and proper.  Then let the voters render their verdict!

Posted in Orange County Board of Supervisors, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »