On Local Government: The “Save Their Butt” tax

by Bob Pinzler

If all goes according to plan, on the November 2024 ballot property owners in our three beach cities will be asked to approve a 30-million-dollar tax measure which the Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) is calling a “Health and Wellness Bond.”  It should be called the 30-million-dollar fix for their screw-ups.

Let’s break it down. Of that total, $8 million is dedicated to demolishing the antiquated South Bay hospital building. You might think, of course, it is going to take money to remove that facility. The problem is that when the District pitched its Wealthy Living Campus to us, that cost was to be included in the developer’s responsibilities. It was one of their bigger selling points. 

However, as the District and the developer could not reach a financial agreement, the District decided to take on that cost themselves and gift it to the developer.

An additional $3 million is allocated to building a new allcove mental health center for youth. This would be fine except that the District already received a grant from the State to cover the building costs. But now the District wants to add new “bells and whistles,” which have nearly doubled the projected cost. The State will not cover these additions.

Then, there is $7 million for the creation of open space. Ignoring the fact that the new open space would be just across the street from another Redondo city park, this type of facility is primarily used by people in its vicinity. Thus, open-space-poor cities like Hermosa and Manhattan Beach will be paying for a park in South Redondo. For up to 30 years.

Finally, there is a provision for $5 million for planning, architecture, and engineering. BCHD has already spent over $12 million dollars on this project, for which it seems to have gotten nothing except vague plans and some pretty promotional materials. One would have thought basics such as those found in any project would have been done before asking the public for funds to cover their inadequacies.

The only thing this request for additional money proves is that BCHD has not been a good steward of the many millions of dollars they have received from our property taxes.  Having been provided a windfall when the last tenant left the hospital, BCHD has squandered it over the years, leading them to the existential panic, which has led them to this misbegotten position. This is not a “Health and Wellness Bond.” This is a “Save Their Butt” tax. 

It is time for BCHD to take heed of the warning sent to it by the Local Area Formation Commission, an organization that monitors special districts, of which BCHD is one. They said that BCHD had spread its influence outside the area it was created for. Both of the projects they are asking us to fund are primarily for the use of people outside the district. Why should we pay the mortgage for that? BCHD should withdraw its planned tax measure and fix its own operations before asking us for anything more. ER

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