Following Scandal, Irvine City Council Shows How To Run, and Fix Government

By Katy Grimes

Conservatives on the Irvine City Council have abolished a million dollar business license tax, to reduce the taxes levied on local businesses. This move followed the council’s recent vote overturning the city’s mandated “living wage” ordinance. Mayor Pro-Tem Jeffrey Lalloway authored the issue, with votes in support from council members Christina Shea and Lynn Schott, all Republicans.

While the business tax amounted to only $51 per business, these changes are exactly what every city and town in the State of California should be doing – whittling away at business-killing regulations, policy, taxes and fees.

In an interview with Irvine City Council member Christina Shea, she explained the City of Irvine now has large reserves and a growing economy, thanks to the fiscal conservatives on the city council, whose goal is giving back the community their own money, while remaking the city to be business-friendly. Shea describes Irvine as an island unto itself, in the business unfriendly state of California.

Irvine Then and Now: Corruption vs. Prosperity

Former Democrat Mayor Larry Agran was an Irvine councilman or mayor for all but eight years since 1978. Agran and his council clan spent more than $200 million earmarked for the development of the Orange County Great Park — but not on the park. “The ugly reality includes Agran’s penchant for secrecy, cronyism, narcissism and mismanagement, especially at the Great Park, a noble idea the career politician slyly converted into a biennial election tool to keep his council alliance in power, a circumstance that allowed him to give $167,000 per month in no-bid, public-relations contracts to his own political operatives,” the Voice of OC reported.

The Irvine Great Park land, formerly the El Toro military base, was given to the city of Irvine by the U.S. Navy following base decommission, along with $200 million provided by The Lennar Corp. Lennar made a winning bid of $649.5 million for El Toro. Immediately after escrow closed on July 12, 2005, Lennar agreed to transfer 1,347 acres to Irvine for a park and to pay $200 million in development fees for park construction.

However, over the course of seven years, Agran authorized spending the park money on numerous large unrelated contracts, which had little to do with development of the Great Park. Lennar also pledged to spend another $201 million for joint infrastructure and facilities such as roads and utility connections. The $201 million would come from a Community Facilities District bond sale secured by the property. Homeowners in a CFD (also known as a Mello-Roos district) pay a special tax, in addition to their customary county property tax, for infrastructure and other improvements, according to a Grand Jury report.

Continue reading at the Flash Report…

Irvine Eliminates Business License Fee of $51

By Sarah de Crescenzo

IRVINE – In a move proponents said may attract more businesses to Irvine and will bolster the city’s conservative credentials, companies no longer will have to pay for business licenses.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to cut the $51 annual business license fee, but it could cost the city nearly $1 million in revenue.

“We are taxed out,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway, who was joined in the vote by council members Christina Shea and Lynn Schott. “This is a very important statement that we’re making.”

Lalloway said the decision will show that city government is watching out for businesses and residents when it comes to fees – even when the amount would only cover the cost of dinner for two. Lalloway began pushing to do away with the license fee earlier this year.

Irvine, one of the county’s key business hubs, was for years led by a Democratic-majority council. Today, Republican officials control the city.

While local businesses can add $51 to the bottom of the annual ledger, the fee’s elimination means the city’s operating budget will likely take a nearly $1million hit. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, Irvine took in more than $970,000 through the license program. Out of the $51 fee, $50 goes to the city and $1 to the state.

Operating the program that year cost about $600,000. Schott said Irvine needs to keep issuing licenses because the program collects data about local businesses. Lalloway originally proposed cutting it altogether because of privacy concerns.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…