Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vernon Tries to Appease its Tax-Hungry Critics

We haven't heard from the tiny Los Angeles County city of Vernon for a while. At last count, the California Assembly had approved a bill to allow the town to be swallowed by LA County for the benefit of the political elites there. Well, the LA Times reports that the City Council will consider a sweeping reform proposal tomorrow that's intended to demonstrate its commitment to fighting corruption.

This logo not coming soon to a non-city near you.
The plan would slash the salaries of City Council members down to $25,000 a year, and reduce their medical benefits; the salaries of other top city officials would be capped as well. The oversight of all city-owned residential property would be shifted to an advisory committee with one Council member, two residents, three owners of local businesses, and one local worker. Finally, Council members would be subject to term limits. Opponents, of course, view the proposals as cosmetic. John Vigna, spokesman for John Perez (the Assembly Speaker leading the effort to disincorporate the city), said, "This is just another example of Vernon saying or doing anything to protect their corrupt status quo." We're guessing the irony of this statement, coming from a California Assemblyman's mouthpiece, was lost on Vigna.

We're not expecting this proposal to have much effect on the push to disincorporate Vernon, for the simple reason that the push to dissolve the city has nothing to do with political corruption. Perez is only moving on this because Vernon's businesses produce a large chunk of tax revenue, and constitute one of LA County's few centers of productive enterprise. Unfortunately, people like Perez's cousin Antonio Villaraigosa want that tax revenue, and aren't concerned that the disincorporation would cause many of those productive businesses to close up or leave California.


  1. It's hard to know who to hate more here: the corrupt Vernon city council that has run the town like a personal fiefdom, or the county that wants to grab the increased taxes (which might turn out to be quite chimerical).

    What sorts of taxes are we talking about? What would go up as a consequence of a county takeover?

  2. Well, Vernon currently generates an immense amount of revenue through the taxes paid by manufacturing concerns that reside there, as well as through a number of city-owned public utilities. That's what the County wants. The businesses like the city because they get good rates on water and power there, and because the quick response times from police and firefighters mean lower insurance premiums. Each of these will almost certainly go up if the city is disincorporated.

    I agree that the Vernon City Council deserves little sympathy. But this isn't about getting rid of them, and unfortunately the price of disincorporation is likely to be a lot of those businesses.