SLO sales tax renewal lacking needed support

April 2, 2014

sloThe San Luis Obispo City Council majority must muster four votes in order to place a renewal of its half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. But, as of Tuesday night, only three council members support doing so.

At a council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Jan Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson expressed support for renewing Measure Y, the city’s half-cent sales tax. Council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith expressed opposition.

After a heated discussion, in which Marx called Carpenter and Smith obstructionists, the council voted 3-2 to direct city staff to craft a potential ballot measure and bring it back to them by July for review. The 3-2 vote, with council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith dissenting, is enough to get staff working on the ballot measure. But, when the proposed measure returns to council, a 4-1 or 5-0 vote will be necessary to place it on the November ballot.

Smith said she does not trust the city to use general-purpose sales tax money as promised, but she would support a specific use tax.

In recent months, staff members have struggled to identify capital improvement projects the city has completed using Measure Y funds. Staff is now championing its use of Measure Y funds for street maintenance and storm drain replacement, which many residents considered expected services prior to approval of the sales tax.

If the council places a general-purpose sales tax renewal on the ballot, it will require a majority vote to pass. However, two-thirds of voters must support a specific use tax in order for one to pass.

 







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28 Comments

  1. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    It is wonderful to see so many comments here essentially confirming what I said would happen six years ago – the money would go into salaries and benefits. The city has hired 17 new employees. The city gave huge raises to safety personnel thanks to the binding arbitration decision and those raises have continued and will continue to sop up OUR money.

    Ask yourself – are we any better off today than we were six years ago? Is this sales tax really going to do anything for our city? What do we have to show for it? The Public Works director at a recent “outreach” meeting could not name a single Capital Improvement Project completed with Measure Y money. That is shameful.

    The administration LIED to us six years ago as to where the money would go and the truth is now coming out. Kudos to Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith for having the courage to vote NO.

    • SLOBIRD says:

      Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter thank you for your principles and Kathy, please reconsider your decision to not run. The citizens of SLO need you now more than ever…Please!

  2. falconbh says:

    We all need to be weary of all these new taxes, fees, and bonds. When you start adding them up you find yourself with one big tax increase.Unfortunately, we live in a high tax state, with a growing higher local tax agenda.

    Voters are facing this problem with the Five Cities Fire Authority who after telling the taxpayers this merger would save money are now trying to pass a new tax to hire more full time employees and bailout the out of control department.

    Salaries,benefits, and pensions are sucking the life out of local budgets. This leaves little funding left for infrastructure and maintenance.The elected city/county officals are creating the so called funding ‘crisis’ by overpromising benefits that we cannot afford.

    If we look closely at local and state pensions we see unfunded liabilities that will take a steady increase of taxes and contributions over three decades to just get the system financially stable. [fixpensionsfirst.com]

    We have seen more and more cities being forced into bankruptcy because of these long term emlpoyee benefit obligations for current and retired employees.

    In the future, we need to reject these new tax increases, have our cities build balanced budgets with current revenue projections, and lastly employees must realize that changes must be made so that cities and county governments can achieve their traditional objectives of providing cost effective services for residents that improve the quality of life.

  3. slomike says:

    So much righteous indignation over a half cent tax. You people are antediluvian. Spend some of your money to help all. Don’t die clutching pennies while while letting SLO slip away.

    • cosmos7 says:

      So just keep contributing to the general pot is your answer? Keep hoping the city will spend it wisely? Turned out great so far…

    • womanwhohasbeenthere says:

      “Spend some money to help all” – You mean help our highly-paid city staff? The city already spends our money to help the homeless (Prado Day Center,Maxine Lewis shelter, and $250K pledged for a permanent homeless services center); the poor (subsidized housing through thecity’s Housing Authority), college students (bus passes and fire services), the elderly (senior center), the arts (Promotional Coordinating Committee grants, SLO Art Center, PAC), bicyclists with miles of costly bike lanes. Enough already. I am voting NO and encourage everyone else to do the same. The city must learn to live within its means and budget better. Higher taxes, especially regressive sales taxes, are not the answer.

    • SLOBIRD says:

      Put the pension rate back to 60 for public safety and 65 for the miscellaneous employees like the rest of American public citizens. Problem solved. You elected officials created this mess, solve it.

      • falconbh says:

        That is what is needed to help balance the budget.

        The city has 19 employees who are retired and receiving over $100,000 per year.
        {CalPers Data Base]

        Mr. Daniel Blanke is receiving $140, 388.96 per year in retirement.[CalPers Data Base]

        CalPers has projected 140 Billion unfunded liabilities. [ Stanford University Feb. 26,2012]

        The Governor has stated that it will take three decades of increasing Taxes and Contibutions to stabilize CalPers.

        We all need to work together, the people, the city council, city manager, and employees to realize that we are moving into a new era of local fiscal restraint.

  4. SLOBIRD says:

    Let us all be honest about where this prior tax went, SLO Police Dept salaries. I do not argue the right or wrong of arbitration, I am just saying that this tax pays the salaries for one of the highest paid Police Depts in California. This tax should demonstrate to each and every taxpayers that there will never be enough money for government to spend. Since this tax was imposed back in 2006 the City has developed Los Osos Valley Road and brought on board Target, Duck Sporting Goods, Olive Garden, Home Depot, TJ Max, Panda Express, Old Navy, etc.

    The original goals for this increase, according to the City, were:

    •Improving public safety service levels, with an initial emphasis in police services on neighborhood patrols and traffic safety; and in fire services on prevention and training.
    •Restoring the neighborhood street paving program and catching up on deferred street maintenance.
    •Reducing and managing traffic congestion.
    •Improving flood protection, including silt removal in our creeks and better maintenance of storm drains.
    •Enhancing senior services, including remodeling the existing Senior Center and planning ahead for the future.
    •Strengthening neighborhood code enforcement by adding a code enforcement officer and expanding the “SNAP” program.
    •Restoring funding for open space preservation.

    I say the City has failed in almost all of the above goals.
    > Police are much better paid, but no significant changes due to sales tax money.
    > No significant changes in the paving program due to sales tax money.
    > No significant reduction in traffic congestion but certainly a significant increase.
    > Since we are in multi year drought we certainly have not had to deal with increased flooding and silts issues our creek beds.
    > No major changes other than a couple of parking spaces added at the senior center.
    > No significant changing in the code enforcement program except for the change in the garbage can band,
    > How much open space have we preserved???

    BUT, folks, the City has hired a consultant and is undergoing a survey study of salary and benefit increases in addition to more staffing. How is that going to work for all of you supporting this tax?

    A tax should be absolutely for a SPECIFIC USE or no tax at all. And, if you are going to vote on this tax and pass it, it should be a permanent tax, because the City wants this revenue forever.

    Do not be fooled, vote NO – N0 – NO. They got there increase with all the new businesses.

  5. SanSimeonSam says:

    way to go Dan and Kathy. Maybe we can force the county employees to work until they are 65 or at least delay their welfare checks from the taxpayers until they are 65. They have been playing the taxpayers like cheap guitars.

  6. TaxMeAgain says:

    Congratulations Kathy and Dan. Stand your ground. Jan, I’m pretty disappointed that you immediately went into a personal attack. Shame on you.

  7. DennySLO says:

    Ok, here’s a novel idea…how about NO tax, just start spending wisely for once. Where is the fiscal responsibility? Why is it that “staff” has so much influence on where monies are spent and what “credits or reductions” are given to developers? This city and county operate off of our money, why do we allow them to just spend, donate properties or sell them for pennies on the dollar without checks and balances? Any private business would practice sound fiscal management and oversight….why do we allow this folks? I hate the idea that the only thing a citizen can do is either start a recall or vote them out during an election….this has never sat well with me and quite frankly never will. There should not be anytime that meetings are held in private to discuss the public’s interest and this is what happens all the time.
    NO on “Y” and if you have to ask why….lol

  8. Paso_citizen says:

    And I coujld have sworn the story was about Paso Robles and the 1/2% sales tax that got ram-rodded down our throats under the guise of infrastructure improvements. The joke is on us.

    Just the same old story; repeated over and over and over. City/county governments will do what they want, when they want; with the full knowledge that no action(s) will be taken by the voters.

    When will the voters stop being led down the ‘rosy’ path and do what is necessary?

    In closing, I will give anyone 100:1 odds the the SLO sales tax will be on the Nov. ballot and will be passed again as a general purpose tax. Any takers?

    • the guy paso says:

      Paso-citizen

      Find two guys like you, run for council, fire App and rule the city. Posing here will not change one thing. You’re welcome

  9. Kevin Rice says:

    Congratulations Kathy and Dan! Our sales tax has been misused by City Manager Katie Lichtig to backfill salaries and pensions despite that the public was told it would be used for repairs, infrastructure and other capital improvements. If the binding arbitration battle comes back and the city loses, it could cost more millions from our sales tax.

    This should be on the ballot as a SPECIFIC USE tax, not a GENERAL tax thrown into the city slush fund (general budget).

    • unlisted says:

      I agree that a special tax, with strict limitations on it use, would be better. The problem is that while a general tax only requires a simple majority to pass, a special tax requires 2/3rds approval. Measure Y only received a 64.77% “yes” vote, so it would have failed as a special tax.

      • SLOBIRD says:

        You don’t know that! If I knew that ALL THE TAX MONEY was going to go for road work in the City I would be more likely to vote for it. But, to put it in the hands of people like Katie, Jan, John and Christianson I would be nuts to support their personal agendas.

        Vote NO – NO – NO for any new taxes!

Comments are closed.