Today (7) Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District contesting the legality of Measure EE, a parcel tax proposal which would cost property owners within the district hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Measure EE is currently slated for the June 4th ballot.
The LAUSD Board approved the tax at its February 28, 2019 board meeting by passing a resolution that incorporated the “full text” of the tax. During that meeting, Board members asked district staff and the district’s legal counsel if any changes to the Resolution could be made after receiving Board approval. The LAUSD Board was correctly informed that any change to the Resolution would require further Board action – in a public meeting – and all changes would have to be made by March 13, 2019. If not, the tax proposal would fail to comply with the Brown Act and the Elections Code.
Despite this, on March 11, 2019, District Superintendent Beutner sent a letter to Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan, asking him to significantly alter the Board-approved language. Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said: “Advancing ballot language that was never approved by the LAUSD Board violates both the Brown Act and the Elections Code.” The difference between what was approved by the LAUSD Board and the language presented to voters is far more than some typographical error. The Resolution refers to the tax being imposed on “habitable” square footage but the language presented to voters imposes the tax on all “improved property.” For homeowners, the difference is huge because, according to the new language, garages and storage spaces would also be subject to the tax.
“Any alteration in what was approved by the Board and what appears on the ballot would be enough to invalidate Measure EE. But that is especially true here where the discrepancy has a huge impact on the nature of the text. Voters have a right to know what they are voting on and, if it is a tax measure, the extent to which they are taxed.”
HJTA’s legal action seeks an order stopping the counting of the ballots as well as the certification of the election results.