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Bell Has the 2nd Highest Property Taxes in L.A. County

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The city of Bell is the story that keeps on giving. However, that's unfortunate news. Today's development is that residents have been paying the second highest property taxes in Los Angeles County as part-time elected officials and top city staff we're paid some of the highest salaries for the type of job in the country, finds the LA Times and Bloomberg News.

On top the of 1% general property tax levied, property owners also pay other assessments by the local municipality. Countywide, the average is $11.60 -- that's 1.16% -- for every $1,000 of assessed value. In Bell, the rate is 1.55%. The Times notes that's "nearly half again as much as those in such affluent enclaves as Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes Estates and Manhattan Beach, and significantly higher than just about everywhere else in Los Angeles County, according to records provided by the county Auditor-Controller's Office."

With a whole 21 affected residential parcels, the city of Industry is the only municipality with a higher property tax. Bell is a small 2.5 square-mile town of 39,000 people, who are mostly immigrants. In 2008, the per-capita income was $24,800, with more than 25% of residents living below poverty level.

Bell's high tax rate is thanks to a combination of factors, including bond debt, a 1944 voter-approved "retirement tax" to pay city staff pensions and recent hikes to local taxes and direct assessments for trash collection and other services.

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Most city councimembers were being paid $100,000 for their part-time work, the majority of it for various commission and board meetings that rarely occurred, and when they did, lasted only a few minutes. On Monday, they significantly cut their salaries and last week, three highly paid employees agreed to resign. The city manager was paid nearly $800,000 a year.