Claremont Insider: Dis(re)membering History

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dis(re)membering History

The Claremont 400 comes to the rescue of the city's tax base.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, former Claremont mayors Diann Ring and Judy Wright and former Councilmember Bill McCready submitted a letter to the council and also appear to have sent the same letter to the Claremont Courier. The letter defended the 1990 implementation of the city's Landscaping and Lighting District (LLD) assessment.

It also pointed out that the city's Utility Tax and the LLD were put to a public vote in 1997 (see our post from Monday for a deconstruction of the manipulation behind that vote).

The letter the former council people submitted is too long and too error-filled to allow much commentary here, so we'll just post it and let you decide. We'll offer our analysis in the coming days. It does show the self-importance the Claremonsters still like to indulge in--Here we are, you must listen to us. We will note that they might well follow their own advice and do a little better job of remembering and researching. More of the Claremont 400 history project going on here.

As we indicated, it was submitted as a public document to the City Clerk prior to Tuesday's council meeting:

Dear Editor,

We write to correct erroneous information in your editorial of June 6.

As three members of the city council (the other two are deceased) who passed the Benefit Assessment District in 1990, we specifically did not include a sunset clause. We repeatedly and specifically said that we believed that this assessment would be permanent. Because California assessment district law states requires [sic] an annual budget justification and protest hearing for the continuation of the district, a sunset clause was unneeded and unnecessary.

Many of you may recall that this action was taken 12 years after Proposition 13 passed, the result of which was that Claremont went from a comfortable property tax city to a low local revenue city. Streets were not being repaved. Trees were not adequately trimmed. The parks were not being maintained like they are today.

Even with the assessment district and a growing sales tax, we again were forced to look for more revenue sources or drastically cut services when the State grabbed more and more of the property tax in the early 1990’s. Every year when the State went into recession or could not balance its budget, state legislators told us point blank that were [sic] taking our money and essentially told us to raise taxes. Perhaps, few people are aware that the City of Claremont receives only 11 cents of every property tax dollar paid by residents.

Following the property tax grab by the state [sic, should be State], the city council held 10-15 well attended neighborhood meetings. The situation was presented to those gathered who wrestled with the issues at round tables of ten. All ideas were written down and considered. A final city meeting was held at Bridges Auditorium in December of 1992 and 32 of the 35 speakers requested a utilities user tax be instituted, and the council voted 5-0 to implement the tax in March of 1993.

A new state law required voters to affirm these assessments and taxes, which the Claremont voters did in March of 1997.

We would hope that, as acting editor of the well respected local institution, you will give more attention to researching and understanding the facts about the issues you are given free ink to write about.

Judy Wright (1984-97)
Diann Ring (1986-99)
Bill McCready (1984-92)