“Updated: San Marino Residents Overcharged for Public Safety Tax” for San Marino Patch

Los Angeles County will be sending out corrected tax bills and reimbursements to thousands of residents in San Marino who were overcharged for the 2011-12 public safety tax.

October 20, 2011

See “Updated: San Marino Residents Overcharged for Public Safety Tax” on San Marino Patch here.

The Los Angeles County tax division has admitted to overcharging thousands of San Marino residents for the 2011-12 public safety tax on the most recent statement that went out last Wednesday.

Division Chief of the Auditor-Controller’s Property Tax Division Arlene Barrera told Patch Thursday that corrected tax bills and reimbursements will be sent out in the coming weeks.

“Corrected tax bills—I think we are shooting for early next week—and the refunds need to be generated by another department so we are confirming with them, hopefully within the next couple weeks,” Barrera told Patch.

As of Thursday morning about 98 people had paid their tax bills, Barrera said, so there will not be a large amount of refunds issued. Corrected tax bills and letters of explanation will be sent out to roughly 4600 San Marino residences.

Barrera said although the City of San Marino sent the county a resolution saying the public safety tax amount was not being raised from the 2010-11 amount, someone at the county input the incorrect, higher amount that ended up on resident’s statements.

“Typically it’s one person [who] will do input and comparison on the resolution and it appears it was just missed,” said Barrera.

A similar situation happened in another city about six years ago, Barrera said, and the county mailed out corrected tax bills.

Original story, broken by San Marino Patch:

Though the San Marino City Council voted in June to maintain the 2010-11 fiscal year public safety tax amount and not raise it by five percent, two residents claimed at last week’s San Marino City Council meeting that they were charged the higher amount.

A resident, who chose not to have his name published, addressed the council and pointed out that the amount he was charged on his statement did not match the amount the City Council approved residents in his zone be charged for the public safety tax.

The public safety tax accounts for about 27 percent of the San Marino police and fire department’s budgets and is up for a renewal vote as Measure S on the November ballot.

Another resident at the meeting, who lives in a different residential zone, mentioned she was also overcharged and the two residents wondered if everyone in the city had been overcharged by five percent on their public safety tax statement.

Finance Director Lisa Bailey said at the meeting that this was the first the city had heard about the public safety tax overcharge but the city will look into it.

“Sounds like a class action lawsuit to me,” said San Marino City Councilman Richard Ward.

City attorney Steve Dorsey also took the matter seriously at last Wednesday’s meeting, saying he believed the county would be responsible for the overcharge and the city will need to investigate.

When one of the overcharged residents asked the council what amount she should pay—the incorrect amount on her statement or the council-approved amount—Vice Mayor Richard Sun advised paying the amount on the statement.

Residents are charged varying amounts for the public safety tax, depending on what San Marino zone they live in.

See the documents attached to this article for a breakdown of what San Marino residents in different zones should be paying for the 2011-12 public safety tax. If your statement is charging you more, tell us in the comment box below.

When Patch followed up with Bailey Wednesday, she said the city asked city council members to bring in their recent public safety tax statements to confirm the error and all of the city council members had been overcharged. In one instance, a council member was undercharged for a previous year’s public safety tax, said Bailey.

The city has also since contacted the county about the error.

Patch followed up with the county Wednesday and was referred to Arlene Barrera, Division Chief of the Auditor-Controller’s Property Tax Division, who called back and left a message but was unavailable when Patch returned her call. Patch is continuing to follow up with the county to find out who was responsible for the error and how they will refund overcharged San Marino residents.


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