The typical Santa Clarita homeowner would pay three to five bucks more per year if the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approves an adjustment to the Measure B rate Tuesday.
Measure B was the “Trauma, Emergency, and Bioterrorism Response” measure approved by county voters in November 2002, a little more than a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The measure funds trauma centers and emergency medical services for county and private hospitals, and bioterrorism preparedness and response activities performed by the county Health Department.
The fee is billed through property tax assessments.
Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, director of county health services, is asking the supervisors to approve an upward rate adjustment, based on the Consumer Price Index, of one-quarter of one cent per square foot of improved property. For the owner of a 1,600-square-foot home, that’s an increase of $4 per year.
The total assessment would increase to 4.24 cents per square foot, or $67.84 for a 1,600-square-foot house.
In his report to the supervisors, Katz said the average county hospital was unreimbursed for trauma and emergency costs to the tune of $344 million per year. Measure B covered an average of 49 percent of that unreimbursed amount.
In June, the supervisors approved a six-month extension to contracts with private trauma hospitals in the county, but “due to the lack of funding sources identified during the negotiation process, these contracts do not provide for any increase in funding other than an approved increase in the Measure B property assessment rate,” Katz said in his report.
In the case of both county and private trauma hospitals, the proposed increase “will help offset an additional portion of the unreimbursed costs,” he said.
The Health Department needs the additional funding, too, he said.
“In the area of bioterrorism and public health emergency preparedness and response, (the Department of Public Health) has continuing needs in developing disease and health event surveillance, laboratory detection and investigation response capability related to potential acts of biological, chemical and radiological terrorism. These threats continue to be of concern because of the prominence of Los Angeles as a population, civic, cultural, and economic center. This Measure B rate increase will allow the county to fund a portion of these increasing costs for bioterrorism and emergency preparedness and response.”