Many people find the basic rules for collection and use of property taxes in California to be confusing. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has prepared a helpful report about state property taxes, including a series of easy-to-watch videos. It describes the amount of taxes collected, the types of properties covered, the distribution of property tax revenues, the basic rules of Proposition 13 and an economic analysis of California property taxes according to five criteria: growth, stability, simplicity, neutrality and equity. Overall, the LAO scored California property taxes well on the first three criteria, less well on the last two. Continue Reading »
In October 2011, I wrote in American Water Intelligence about the decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Tarrant Regional Water District v. Hermann. Last week the US Supreme Court granted certiorari and will hear the case this session. My article from October 2011 is below for background. The case presents an interesting dispute regarding transboundary water management. Continue Reading »
I had the privilege yesterday evening to hear a conversation with Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and authors of the Commission’s report The Moment of Truth (2010). It was a great chance to hear genuine statesmen discussing one of the most pressing issues of our day. Logically, the first question posed by the moderator was “how did we get here?” Mr. Bowles discussed the five main causes of our national debt crisis—health care, the tax code, defense spending, social security and compounded interest. Sen. Simpson had a very short answer: we got here because US citizens over the past decades have elected representatives to Congress to bring home the bacon. He listed a few of the things that we have asked the federal government to pay for, and number one on the list was dams. Continue Reading »
As we come to the final week before the 2012 US presidential election, this post reviews the political platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties related to water resources. Continue Reading »
Below is an announcement for an upcoming symposium on Texas water law and resources. I will be unable to attend due to prior commitments, but it looks like a solid program.
I had the privilege of speaking at the National Association of Water Companies annual meeting in Miami, Florida, last week concerning municipal finances in the United States, and particularly California. The focus of the panel—which also included John Bohn (esteemed former Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission) and Mark Strauss (American Water), with Debra Coy moderating—was on potential opportunities for and impacts on the private water sector. Continue Reading »
I understand that the Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCO) in several California counties have sent correspondence to all mutual water companies within their boundaries about the requirements of Assembly Bill 54. Among other things, AB 54 requires all mutual water companies that operate public water systems to have their board members undergo a two-hour training on their responsibilities as directors, and to submit a map of their service area to LAFCO by December 31, 2012. If your mutual water company receives such a notice, and you would like to know more, please see my earlier post here about AB 54, and here about the required training course.