Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has voiced significant concerns regarding a proposed charter amendment, saying it is “hasty” and would be a potential violation of the law and denies county residents full access to fund future priorities.
Barger’s concern is shared by community members, the League of California Cities, Contract Cities Association, Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and SEIU, she said in a statement.
“We owe it to our residents, the voters, the taxpayers and our workforce to participate in the robust conversation and community engagement this issue deserves,” Barger said.
“Since the first discussion of this charter amendment last week, we have heard from many represented county members who will undoubtedly be impacted,” she said. “Various constituencies, organizations and elected officials within the county have shared their concerns regarding the lack of thoughtful analysis, dialogue and engagement in the rush to place this initiative on the November ballot.”
The Board of Supervisors, in coordination with the Chief Executive Office, is responsible for determining the county budget every year, carefully considering appropriate allocations for each county department to meet the needs of the more than 10 million residents throughout the region.
The proposed charter amendment will harm the Board’s ability to meet unforeseen challenges in delivering vital services to its residents in the years to come. One need not look further than the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact on the county’s budget to know that any restriction on its general fund could be devastating.
In addition, the Chief Executive Office has estimated that — if this proposed ballot initiative passes in November — the county could face a loss of approximately 700-1,000 positions across all county services during Fiscal Year 2021-22 if financial projections remain the same.
“We all agree that we need to commit essential resources to support investment in our communities and alternatives to incarceration,” Barger said. “Instead of moving forward with this rushed measure, the Board of Supervisors should take this opportunity to discuss these issues at length with our stakeholders and community leaders to develop a more vigorous and comprehensive approach to address this important issue.”
The legality of this charter amendment is also at issue. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys raised a question regarding the legality of the proposed charter amendment and asked if it violated the California Constitution.
In verbal testimony, and further supported in writing, they contend that the California Constitution states, “The Legislature may not delegate to a private person or body power to make, control, appropriate, supervise or interfere with county or municipal corporation improvements, money or property, or to levy taxes or assessments, or perform municipal functions.”
The Supervisors are designated exclusive authority over the budget, pursuant to California Government Code 29000 et seq. can neither be usurped by initiative nor delegated.
The Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs has retained a law firm to launch its own legal action on the grounds of procedural and legal issues with the charter amendment.