Long Beach Taxes – 1907

By: 
Gerrie Schipske
LBFD – 1907

The following is an editorial from the Los Angeles Herald, January 27, 1907 in response to Long Beach wanting to change its charter to give power to city trustees (councilmembers) to head city commissions which would govern city departments. The editors criticized the changes suggesting they would (and did) result in higher taxes on residents.

IN LONG BEACH

 “Long Beach just now is confronted with a peculiar proposition. It has been presented with a framed up charter for itself and will soon be called upon to vote for its acceptance or repudiation.

“The proposed charter is based almost entirely upon the present charter of Los Angeles. In other words, it is made for a city of 250,000 population and has all the complexities of government which such a city demands. If adopted and put into effect Long Beach will have a government which will be practically a duplicate of that existent here.

“Los Angeles is free to admit that there are many features in its own government with which It would gladly dispense. Many of these are merely devices to keep a number of men in office. It is really doubtful if commissions of men can better manage the affairs of the fire department, the police department, the civil service, the water department and a host of others, than could a single expert in either case.

“Yet all these boards the new charter will inflict upon Long Beach, and it will actually be presented the spectacle of a board of five police commissioners passing upon the acts of four lone policemen! And its one fire house will be administered by a fire board composed of almost as many commissioners as there are men in the service!

“The absurdities of such a charter are very plain to be seen when the document is analyzed — and these are by no means all of them. But the trouble is that some voters in Long Beach are not analyzing; they are merely taking the document on faith and hurrahing for a “greater” Long Beach, without regard to whether it will be greater or not. Will it be greater? It might be well to give pause and see.

“In any city without great commercial resources a low rate of taxes and home protection are prerequisites for success. Long Beach is a delightful beach resort and residence center and probably never will be much else — has no desire to be. Low taxes have been one of its boasts. Will the proposed charter continue this rule? Hardly. For at the very start, before It makes any other provision, it compels the Installation of these various boards of commissioners and increases the cost of government $60,000 a year.

“Where will this fund come from? Out of the pockets of the taxpayers. What will they get in return? Nothing but a lot of superfluous officeholders to eat the taxes and cumber the earth.

“Will they get any better government, any more policemen, any increase in fire service, any greater water supply for this additional expenditure? Increases that the citizens can see are need full call for additional taxes, still greater in proportion because they must be filtered through boards of commissioners before they reach their proper channels. Taxes in Long Beach will increase mightily, and no benefit will be observable from them.

“This is only one vicious feature connected with this charter; there are many others. But this one in itself should be enough to defeat it.

“Low taxes have been Long Beach great boast, but the new charter increases Its expense $60,000 at one jump, with no compensation except a bunch of useless office holders. Does Long Beach want that?

 schipske@gmail.com

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