Marx seeking sales tax renewal end-run around law

April 15, 2014
Jan Marx

Jan Marx

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx is seeking to use an appellate court ruling to forego the two-thirds council vote requirement to place a tax increase on the November ballot.

In 1986, California voters passed Proposition 62, which requires a two-thirds vote of a city council or county board of supervisors to place a general tax on the ballot for voters to approve. In the city of San Luis Obispo, 55.42 percent of voters said yes to Proposition 62 and countywide 63.83 percent of voters said yes.

At an April 1 council meeting, Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson expressed support for renewing Measure Y, the city’s half-cent sales tax, while Council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith expressed opposition. A 4-1 or 5-0 vote has been required in the past to place tax increases on the ballot.

Marx, who called Carpenter and Smith obstructionists, asked city attorney Christine Dietrick to look into the city of San Leandro having the ability as a charter city to place tax increases on the ballot with a majority vote. A 2001 ruling by the California Court of Appeal determined the two-thirds requirement does not apply to charter cities which have municipal codes that require a majority vote rather than the two-third state requirement.

San Leandro’s city charter specifies that only a majority vote of the city council is required rather than a two-thirds vote to place sales tax increases on the ballot.

Dietrick has determined the council can likely place the Measure Y renewal on the ballot with a majority vote based on the San Leandro case, according to the Tribune.

Nevertheless, the city of San Luis Obispo’s adopted municipal code section 3.15.020 states that in compliance with California Government Code Section 7285.9, the city requires that “two-thirds of the council and a majority vote of the electors voting on the measure, vote to approve the establishment of this new general purpose revenue source at an election called for that purpose.”

Smith said she does not trust the city to use general-purpose sales tax money on capital improvements as promised, though she would support a specific use tax. In recent months, city staff has struggled to identify capital improvement projects the city has completed using Measure Y funds.

At tonight’s city council meeting, Marx is likely to seek the inclusion of a Measure Y renewal on the May 6 agenda under the assumption the council no longer requires a two-thirds vote.

San Luis Obispo based attorney Stew Jenkins, who successfully sued the city over illegal treatment of the homeless, said he is analyzing the issue and considering requests to get involved.

 







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32 Comments

  1. Rambunctious says:

    Oh come on everyone…lets give them more money. Then we can have a more equal and just society. They really need more money so they can do good things for us. I think we should just give them all of the money and let them take care of everything. Come on! where is your progressive spirit? We all have job lock anyway so just let them have it all and then when we are all flat out broke and destitute the public employees will all chip in and help us. I think with the city managers salary alone she could help pay the retirement of at least one of us…don’t ya think?

    (20) 24 Total Votes - 22 up - 2 down
  2. scoopone says:

    Hmm…this move right after a story that the city is considering another round of employee
    salary increases.

    Of course, the City Manager can’t get along with over $300k per year…she must get more to insure her guaranteed pension is more valuable when she quits at exactly the time she is entitled to claim it.

    If Marx and pals push this through, I bet that the measure will go down to defeat. I for onehave had enough of cost increases pushed down my throat.

    The message learned from all of this….private citizens can no longer afford to pay these
    inflated salaries/pensions. We are on are way to bankruptcy!!!

    (44) 50 Total Votes - 47 up - 3 down
  3. Just follow the money within the City of San Luis Obispo.

    Sounds a lot like “Deep Throat” during the Watergate break-in investigation !

    (31) 35 Total Votes - 33 up - 2 down
  4. shelworth says:

    Gotta pay for the huge salaries somehow. Do you people want to lose Katie Lichtig?

    (38) 42 Total Votes - 40 up - 2 down
  5. achillesheal says:

    The majority of voters were foolish enough to raise their own taxes. Did anyone actually think it would ever go away? Serves us right.

    (40) 46 Total Votes - 43 up - 3 down
  6. SamLouis says:

    Enough of your bovine scatology, Marx! Retire already and move back to wherever you and your husband came from.

    Oh yeah and given her record, I wouldn’t trust city attorney Christine Dietrick’s “opinion” on anything.

    (47) 53 Total Votes - 50 up - 3 down
  7. DennySLO says:

    I find it fascinating that Marx calls the two council members who have legitimate concerns about the legitimacy and use of the existing measure “Y” funds and raise valid concerns as well as bring solutions (specific use tax) obstructionists.
    So, Marx’s solution, find a way to eliminate their vote and do what she wants. What a shameful deception and misuse of power born on the backs of the citizens of SLO.

    So the hard working citizens of SLO will now pay (again) for employee salary increases under the continued guise of a capital improvement tax….that’s capitalistic all right!
    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….not going to happen

    NO on “Y”

    (57) 63 Total Votes - 60 up - 3 down
  8. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Let’s see – our charter states we are to conform to state law on this. Sounds pretty clear to me. Just because San Leandro’s charter didn’t specify it would conform to state law does NOT mean we can simply ignore our own charter’s provision that we must conform to state law.
    Without changing this section of the charter, how can putting Measure Y on the ballot without 4 of 5 votes on the council be legal? I can see a lot of lawsuits here.

    The support for Measure Y just isn’t there. The truth is out – the funds have been squandered on additional staff, raises and benefits, and now Council wants more raises for administrators and itself. The Public Works Department Director can not name ANY Capital Improvement Project that has been built with Measure Y funds.

    Are we any better off than we were eight years ago? After this abysmal track record,why would anyone in his/her right mind vote to give the city more money?

    Remember there is $90 MILLION the city is sitting on right now getting 0.25% interest. If this money were properly invested, or used to pay down our higher-interest debts, or build the needed infrastructure, we would have more money coming in and less going out and wouldn’t need any additional taxes. Good money management – What a concept.

    (44) 50 Total Votes - 47 up - 3 down
  9. Mr. Holly says:

    If you are going to use the tax money for what you say you are going to do, why are you afraid of a super majority vote that actually provides the taxpayer with a guarantee that the tax will only be spent for that purpose?
    I like Council member Smith and most taxpayers don’t trust the government with our money. For Marxs to make this move one would have to ask what really is her objective?

    (36) 42 Total Votes - 39 up - 3 down

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