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Why Are Penalty Assessments So High?

According to some people, an answer to that question requires a trip in the Way-Back Machine to disco-era Tulare County.

In the 1970s, California had some of the highest property taxes in the country. To justify the high rates, many officials cited the swelling population in the Golden State, and all these new people demanded regular garbage pick-up, fast emergency services, strict code enforcement, well-built schools, and other services. In 1978 the voters revolted, Proposition 13 passed by about a two-to-one margin, as part of the “taxpayer’s revolt” that was mostly responsible for Ronald Reagan’s Presidential win in 1980. Prop 13 basically capped property tax assessments allowing increases only in limited cases; the United States Supreme Court upheld Prop 13 in 1992.

In the meantime, the transportation budget became increasingly slanted toward fixed rail and other mass transportation solutions, including the much maligned high speed train project. Penalty Assessments became more of a way for politicians to come up with some more cash to keep the budget in the black.

Penalty Assessments

At $29 for every $10 in fines or portion thereof, penalty assessments dwarf the actual fines. While some of this money goes to various vehicle-related government projects, much of it goes to the General Fund. The county only keeps about a third of the money, a point that is important below. Even Democrat Governor Brown warned that penalty assessments were getting so high that people would stop paying them. Now, the state is short some $10 billion in penalty assessments, and many of the programs that depend on this money are in financial distress.

Since the county only keeps a little of the money, many local Kern County prosecutors are willing to make deals to reduce penalty assessments, which means you keep more money in your pocket.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive attorneys at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-349-9300 or email attorney@markbigger.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-349-9755.