Petition Filed to Repeal Utility Users Tax


A petition to repeal the city of Glendale’s Utility Users Tax has received the requisite number of signatures to be considered for approval or placement on a municipal ballot measure, city officials said Tuesday.

The issue came before the Glendale City Council Tuesday night when the petition was certified, having received more than 2,000 signatures, well over the required mark of 1,366 signatures.

The Utility Users Tax is composed of taxes on electricity, gas, water, telecommunications and video. According to city officials, the tax makes up 15.2% of the city’s budget or about $28 million.

The measure would be known as “Stop the Utility Users Tax.”

The text of the proposed measure reads, “Whereas, the people of the city of Glendale find and declare that federal, state and local taxation has reached confiscatory levels; that unrestrained spending and regulation at all levels of government, are excessive, improvident, contrary to our rights as a free people and thereby destructive of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

“That would take a large chunk out of the general fund if [the Utility Users Tax] were to go away,” said Robert Eliot, Glendale director of finance during a report on the city’s 2015-16 fiscal year first quarter financials.

The budget report indicated that the Utility Users Tax was the city’s third largest revenue stream after property and sales taxes during the last fiscal year.

City Manager Scott Ochoa described Glendale as a “low tax city” and said that repealing the Utility Users Tax would “blow a hole in the side of this organization” and its ability to provide quality city services.

If the council does not adopt the measure in December, the initiative must be placed on a ballot for the next municipal election, according to a city report.

Should the proposal be placed on a ballot, it would come before the voters either during an April 2017 municipal election, a special election, or statewide general election ballots in 2016, said City Attorney Michael Garcia.

The Utility Users Tax was last voted on during an April 2009 election, when voters approved lowering the telecommunications portion of the tax from 7% to 6.5%.

A report analyzing the fiscal impacts of repealing the tax will come before the council on Dec. 8.