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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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City of Bell
Measure TT - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


1,610 votes yes (39.8%)

2,435 votes no (60.2%)

Shall the measure, entitled City of Bell Transactions and Use Tax Measure, establishing a three quarter cent per dollar (0.75%) general sales tax, annually providing an estimated $1.4 million in revenue, until ended by voters, with funds being deposited into the City's General Fund for police, streets, buildings, parks, recreation and other general functions of the City be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

David J. Aleshire, City Attorney

Measure TT, if approved by the voters at the March 3, 2020 general municipal election, would add a new Chapter 3.22 to the City of Bell's Municipal Code, titled "Bell Services Preservation Measure," imposing a three quarters of a cent per dollar (0.75%) transactions and use tax (i.e., sales tax) for City general fund purposes.

State law allows certain entities including municipalities to increase sales taxes, which under Proposition 218 needs to be done by a vote of the people. Specifically, Measure TT places a tax of 0.75% upon retailers' gross receipts from the retail sale of most tangible personal property sold within the City, and an excise tax upon the storage, use or other consumption of tangible personal property purchased from any retailer for storage, use or other consumption within the City. The rate permitted is 0.75% of the sales price of the property, where "sales price" includes delivery charges subject to State sales or use tax, regardless of delivery destination.

In 2010, the City was exposed to a national scandal in which its top two management employees went to jail and the entire City Council was replaced. The City lost all reserves and faced $78M in claims. The citizens reformed the City Charter and replaced the officials, and all the claims were resolved. However, in the last three years City revenues have been flat, while expenses have grown, producing destabilizing deficits which again threaten City finances. 

It is estimated that revenues from this tax will generate approximately $1,500,000 annually for the funding of general City services. Funds generated by the proposed tax would be placed in the City's general fund, are not restricted, and may be used for any City general fund purposes, which include, but are not limited to:

-  Improving emergency response times,
-  Crime and vandalism prevention,
-  Street improvements and traffic flow,
-  Parks and recreational facilities and services,
-  Beautification and safety of public areas.

Food purchased as groceries and prescription medication will not be taxed under this measure. Visitors to Bell will bear part of the tax burden imposed by their local activities and thus contribute to the City's ability to maintain general public services they use while visiting. Residents and other purchasers of goods in the City will also be subject to the tax. The specific retail sales and uses subject to the tax would be determined under the regulations of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration ("CDTFA") and the tax would be administered by the CDTFA under contract with the City of Bell.

A "YES" vote is a vote to approve a 0.75% retail transactions and use general tax. A "NO" vote is a vote against a 0.75% retail transactions and use general tax. The transactions and use tax proposed by Measure TT would take effect only if it receives a majority "YES" vote at the March 3, 2020, general election.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR


California State law is clear, the maximum rate that any city can set for sales tax is 10.25%; currently the sales tax rate in Bell is 9.5% on all retail purchases (most groceries and all medicine are exempt). KEEP IN MIND, currently only 1 cent of each sales tax dollar spent in Bell is returned to the City for its use in providing overall municipal services. 

If the voters in Bell pass this proposed sales tax increase from 9.5% to 10.25% three important things will take place:

(1) The entire increase will be returned to Bell;
(2) Other regional governmental agencies will be stopped from increasing the sales tax and taking all the increase in the sales tax for their use;
(3) Bell will have additional money to provide needed services – an estimated revenue increase of over $1 million. 

What does this proposed sales tax increase mean to the average consumer in Bell? Currently, purchasing a Starbucks cup of coffee costs $5.00, the sales tax (e.g. 9.5%) is 48 cents - increasing the sales tax to 10.25% increases the sales tax on that same Starbucks Coffee to 51 cents – an increase of only 3 cents!

Please help us in claiming additional sales tax dollars for Bell before the South Coast Air Quality Management District or other regional agencies move to increase the sales tax to 10.25% without any money being returned to Bell. 


Council Member

Arguments AGAINST


The City Council wants a BAILOUT by raising taxes on Bell residents and small businesses by three-quarter percent to 10.25% - the HIGHEST in Bell history and HIGHEST in Los Angeles County! If the measure passes, Bell will have HIGHER sales tax than Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and Downey! As if our property taxes and city fees were not high enough, the City Council believes YOU should pay more for a City bailout! WHY?

In the last six years (post-scandal), the City Council has so severely mismanaged the City's finances, it is running a structural deficit, even though revenue has actually increased by the Council's own admission. The deficit reflects years of irresponsible out-of-control spending (growing 14% since 2016) on generous pensions; lucrative contracts; lavish dinners and travel budget; and excessive salaries and pay raises, including senior managers getting paid more than the California Governor!

The City Council is trying to pitch this as necessary for city parks and other services, but this is a scam! The sales tax resolution clearly indicates proceeds may be used for "general functions." Anything at all, including higher salaries and pensions for overpaid senior management. Indeed, the majority of the General Fund is already allocated for compensation, which continues to rise out of proportion with changes in City revenue. This is insane!

The cold reality of this egregious tax scheme is that businesses will continue to leave Bell, in search of better business climate. The new sales tax increase will HURT the last remaining family businesses, and usher unprecedented blight. At the same time, Bell residents will continue to pay more and more taxes. We already pay enough! No more bailout for the City Council.



Bell Resident and Community Activist

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