City Attorney, Berkeley . 2 A summary of the more significant definitions follows. Following the November 1996 election, a high level official from the California State Association of Counties wrote that Proposition 218 "profoundly changes the way California is governed" and "may prove to be the most revolutionary act in the history of California.  Assessment ballots must be preserved for a minimum of two years, after which they may be destroyed as provided by law.. Section 3 of Proposition 218 added Article XIII C to the California Constitution. Gov. Many local agencies, politicians, and environmental interest groups want stormwater drainage services to also be classified as a utility service in the same class as water, sanitary sewer, and refuse collection services that are exempt from a property-related fee election under Proposition 218. , Controversial general tax measures intended for one or more specific purposes also have the effect of circumventing California accountability laws designed to protect taxpayers by ensuring that local government taxes imposed for specific purposes are actually spent as set forth in the ballot measure.. The California Supreme Court majority reasoned that due to the "fundamentally undemocratic nature" of a two-thirds vote supermajority requirement, the applicable voter approval requirement for local taxes under Proposition 13 must be strictly construed. Prior to Proposition 218, assessment protests by property owners were generally treated as public records subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act. XIII D, § 6, subd. Cal. Const., art. Const., art. Cal. California Secretary of State, Statement of Vote November 5, 1996, pp. 3d 585 (June 1987) the two-thirds voter approval requirement for special taxes under Proposition 13, a different and older constitutional taxpayer protection provision, has previously been applied to a local initiative tax increase proposed by the electorate exercising the local initiative power. Const., art.  Some special assessments that may have been permissible prior to Proposition 218 are no longer legally permissible because of a lack of "special benefit" under the tightened definition. XIII C, § 2, subd. Budgetary spending decisions, which typically reflect the spending policies and priorities of a local government, can be particularly helpful in general tax elections where local politicians decide how the tax proceeds will be spent. Cal. Const., art. (a). Code, § 53755.5, subd.  The five requirements help ensure that any property-related fee or charge is a legitimate fee or charge and not a tax masquerading as a fee or charge. (a) [Special purpose districts or agencies, including school districts, have no power to levy general taxes.]. Const., art. 4th 205 (July 2006). An example would be a state administered water program limited to the Central Valley region of California. In addition, property-related fees or charges based on potential or future use of a property-related service are not permitted. Code, § 53755, subd. , The required notice must also include, in a conspicuous place on the notice, a summary of the procedures applicable to the completion, return, and tabulation of the assessment ballots required under Proposition 218, including a disclosure statement that the assessment will not be imposed if the ballots submitted in opposition to the assessment exceed the ballots submitted in favor of the assessment, with the ballots weighted according to the proportional financial obligation of the each affected property. Few stormwater quality utilities in the mid-1990s.  The ballot must include the agency's address for return of the ballot, the date and location where the ballots will be tabulated, and a place where the person returning it may indicate his or her name, a reasonable identification of the parcel, and his or her support or opposition to the proposed property-related fee or charge.  Thus, local politicians place tax measures on the ballot for voter approval not by a voluntary choice in support of protecting local taxpayers, but rather in response to the constitutional mandates of Proposition 218. The Great Proposition 218 Challenge Prop 218 (1996) and the Prop 218 Omnibus Implementation Act (1997) block funding stormwater programs in California. This is especially the case concerning regressive parcel taxes that disproportionately burden homeowners. California Secretary of State, Statement of Vote November 5, 1996, p. xii. Any procedures applicable to the filing of arguments must also be followed. Under this highly deferential standard of review, the courts presumed that an assessment was valid and the person challenging the assessment had to show that the record before the local agency clearly did not support the underlying determinations of special benefit and proportionality. Proposition 218 allows record owners of each identified parcel upon which the property-related fee or charge is proposed to formally protest the proposed levy. Art. Persons or entities that make campaign contributions at the local level, including in Proposition 218 tax elections, may also make campaign contributions at the state level that are politically relevant in a local tax election campaign. Local agencies often provide financial assistance to low income customers in the form of lifeline utility rates. ", Initially, the California Supreme Court in 2001 narrowly interpreted what constitutes a "property-related" fee or charge in concluding that a residential rental inspection fee was not "property-related.  Under Proposition 218, a standby charge, regardless of whether characterized as a property-related charge or an assessment, is classified as an assessment and may not be levied by a local agency without compliance with the more restrictive procedures and requirements applicable to assessments.. , The California Department of General Services is required to develop compliance standards in the State Administrative Manual to inform owners of state property in California of their duties and responsibilities under Proposition 218. Through the legislative process, particularly in the California Legislature but also via the ballot initiative process, local governments have also supported legislative proposals that limit or otherwise erode Proposition 218 taxpayer protections.  The term "imposed" for purposes of triggering the voter approval requirement under Proposition 218 typically refers to the first enactment of a tax.. While not required by Proposition 218, these additional statutory requirements must be followed for an assessment ballot to be counted. Under Article XIII C, a local government may not impose, extend, or increase any general tax unless the tax is first submitted to the electorate and approved by a majority vote. Cal. In 2004, the Supreme Court’s decision in Richmond v. Shasta Community Services Districtheld Prop. XIII D, § 2, subd. Large amounts of financial data concerning local governments in California are also available in digital format from state agencies, including the California State Controller, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the California Secretary of State, and the California Department of Education.  The general versus special tax distinction existed in California prior to Proposition 218, but Proposition 218 contains a broader definition of "special tax" as also including taxes imposed for specific purposes that are placed into a general fund. 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