Measure G is not an extension of Measure Y

August 8, 2014
Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter


On July 15, my colleagues on the San Luis Obispo City Council voted without my support to put Measure G – the half cent additional sales tax – on the November ballot.

During the entire time leading up to the final vote, it was presented by staff and supported by the majority of council that this is an extension of the current Measure Y sales tax and was not a “new” tax. This is deceptive in an attempt to convince the public that this is not a new tax in hope that message will encourage an affirmative vote.

I will be honest with you, this is a new tax.

Several people including my fellow council members have been outspoken that they have a “right” to vote on the extension of this tax. This is a complete misrepresentation of the truth and needs to be clarified. Nothing in the original ballot language says or implies that at the end of the eight year sunset, the public can or should have the option to extend the tax.

In fact, it says the opposite. The exact ballot language says “eight years only.” Those who voted for this sales tax have the “right” to have this tax expire on March 31, 2015. So my colleagues and staff should stop with the mistruths. You’re insulting the integrity of the informed voter. If you want to ask the voters to approve a new tax then be honest.

Many prominent members of the community are “cheerleading” the passage of this new tax. Look at what organizations they represent, SLO Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association, etc., and who on the list are city of SLO retirees. The former depend on revenue from the city to operate, and the latter depend on the revenue from this tax to fund their lifetime PERS pensions. It should not surprise anyone if our union represented employees support it also. The nexus with all these groups is obvious.

What you’re not hearing from my colleagues, staff, or any of the proponents is how neglectful the city has been at addressing our pension unfunded liability. When our current unfunded obligation is released by PERS later this summer it’s quite possible that number will exceed $150 million for public safety and general employees, up from $90 million just three years ago.

So why aren’t the proponents talking about this enormous liability looming over the city budget? You’ll need to ask them.

The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) which governs accounting practices for state and local governments will require a higher level of transparency that illuminates our unfunded pension obligations as a balance sheet liability beginning fiscal year 2015. Will this colossal liability exceed our assets? Will the city be on the verge of technical insolvency? These are all questions my colleagues should be asking and demanding our senior staff answer honestly.

Our primary responsibility as council members is fiduciary oversight and yet all my colleagues have taken their eye off the ball. Their ineptness in this area of responsibility forces them to depend solely on staff’s recommendations, shame on them. If this is the type of council members you want to represent you, then keep electing the same ones. Otherwise, you have an opportunity on Nov. 4 to elect three new members who will serve this community in the fiscally responsible way it should be.



  1. r0y says:

    The best part about this is, I can print (hard-copy) this story and let my very left-of-center friends who are not “wired” read it. Some people still only read the Tribune (few and far between, to be sure, but still there) and they are always a bit perplexed by the contradictions of narrative that is seen between the propaganda arm and the competition.

    Thank you Dan for your words, and thank you CCN for hosting-and-posting them.

    (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  2. Pelican1 says:

    Exactly how will this new tax help ME?

    (18) 20 Total Votes - 19 up - 1 down
    • r0y says:

      If you were a unionized public employee or management, you’d know…

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
    • hijinks says:

      If you’re a developer, it will subsidize you to make your profits greater. If you live in certain parts of town, they’ll buy your house with it, bulldoze it, and route traffic through where you live. (That’s in the works for Chorro at Foothill!) If you’re the Downtown Association, it will provide pretty sidewalks downtown, at taxpayer expense, while neighborhood sidewalks crumble — let them trip on crumbs, is Katie’s motto. If you’re the Chamber, you can have the satisfaction of seeing our beautiful downtown trees cut down and replaced with lollypops, just like in Paso. Just count the ways it will benefit you.

      (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
      • SLOBIRD says:

        Ask John Madonna and Madonna Enterprises a major supporter of this tax how he will benefit because the City is going to start paying half the development fees for big developers.

        Ask Ken Hampien, retired City Manager, a major supporter of this tax, who conceived the City Council to restructure the employee retirement plan and then retired being the highest paid City employee at over $150,000 a year plus free medical.

        Ask the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association or Cal Poly as major supporters how they will benefit with new programs, sidewalks, water and wastewater lines, paved streets, ladder fire trucks purchased for Cal Poly, transit program for staff and students, etc.

        Anyone supporting this tax is either uninformed or benefitting at the cost of the taxpayers.

        VOTE NO NO NO on all proposed taxes/bonds on the ballot!

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  3. achillesheal says:

    Thank you for the article and honest candor from a politician about government lies and half truths about half cents.

    The bumper sticker voter will never read this candid assessment of the tax increase. They will vote how they are told to vote. Like the dutiful sheep they are and pass the measure.

    (22) 28 Total Votes - 25 up - 3 down
  4. SamLouis says:

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery, Councilman Carpenter. I suspect in part it derives from your heritage as a member of a multi-generational SLO Family. Unlike others on the council or in city government, you have a long-term vested interest in what’s best for SLO.

    You outline the fact in no uncertain terms that there WILL be a reckoning at some point. It might very well begin with the rejection of Measure G. It might also begin down the road (when Marx, Lichtig, et. al. are long gone) where it will be far bloodier for those with their snoots in the trough.

    Rejecting Measure G would also help to force our council members to actually lead and our city administrators to actually manage. It would force much needed discipline.

    Yes, Measure G is a NEW TAX and I’m certainly not going to pay for it.

    (46) 54 Total Votes - 50 up - 4 down
  5. Mariposa says:

    Please correct me if I am mistaken. Even though Measure G is the CITY of San Luis Obispo’s “baby,” anyone who does business in San Luis Obispo will see increases in the cost of goods purchased and when dining in a SLO eatery [within the City limits] if this unnecessary tax is passed by San Luis Obispo CITY voters. So even though only CITY voters will have the opportunity to decide yea or nay, the entire County will be affected adversely if Measure G passes. If all this is true, sensible SLO COUNTY registered voters who live outside SLO CITY limits should do everything possible to influence SLO CITY registered voters to VOTE “NO” ON MEASURE G. Please … JUST SAY NO!

    (30) 38 Total Votes - 34 up - 4 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      Well, you’re somewhat mistaken. If Measure G passes, you will still be paying the same 8% sales tax rate in the City of SLO that you are currently paying. The issue is that the sales tax rate was supposed to drop back to 7.5% as Measure Y was supposed to only be a temporary tax increase. If the citizens of SLO want to keep paying 8% sales tax, they will pass Measure G.

      The bigger issues for many is the dishonesty of those that redefine what the tax revenues can, have and will be used for. Measure Y was originally passed to using promises that it would fund “capital improvements.” Deception and accounting tricks have resulted in minimal use for those purposes and much of it going to pay routine expenses so that money could be freed up for more employees, higher salaries and (especially) covering excessive pension obligations.

      While my South County city has it’s own minor league corruption problems, I am glad I will not have to deal with the inevitable future fallout from the current SLO City leadership’s irresponsible and short-sighted policies.

      (24) 24 Total Votes - 24 up - 0 down
    • hijinks says:

      70% of the tax is paid by outsiders.

      Unfortunately, though, your logic doesn’t track. It seems all the SLO county cities will have the same higher tax rate if voters ante up this November. So, where you gonna shop? In Santa Maria, where it’s even higher? They’ve got you by the anatomy, dude.

      (-3) 5 Total Votes - 1 up - 4 down
  6. Mr. Holly says:

    Thank you Mr. Carpenter for your honesty and attempt to inform the public as to what is really happening.
    Atascadero is next on the list of possibly initiating a tax under false pretenses. The issue was originally presented by staff as a possible tax to basically supplement the general fund. Then a survey was prepared for the city which indicated that voters would favor a tax mostly for road repairs. When presented to the city council the words “for other vital city needs” was added to the ballot measure at the urging of the city attorney. The explanation for this wasif that wasn’t added it could be construed to be a special tax for road repair. This move was completely against what the survey had reported and just became an increase that will go into the general fund. There is NOTHING that dictates this tax to go to roads except a promise from your government. Have you heard that one before? If there is an oversight committee, they have no legal power at all to do anything except spend some of the tax money to pay for the committee and for staff to bill for their excessive hourly fees.
    Citizens of Atascadero should beware of what is really happening, it looks like a bait and switch.
    Read the arguments for the measure which is signed by 3 councilmembers and all it does is address the roads. That appears to be contrary to the advice that the city attorney gave those members of the council. The argument by the city attorney more clearly explains what this tax increase can do.
    Along with SLO and other cities and school districts these tax increase and bond measures really need to be looked at.

    (33) 41 Total Votes - 37 up - 4 down
  7. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for exposing what is really going on here. Everyone supporting this NEW TAX has his hand in the till: city employees, those with big contracts with the city, those with projects before the city, those pushing a “green” agenda at any cost.

    Wake up SLO voters! Are you any better off today than eight years ago because of this? I certainly don’t see $46 million worth of improvements, but I do see over 20 new employees and a city budget that ballooned from $36 million a year in 2001 to $136 Million this year. We had a net increase of population of about 1000 people. WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?

    Don’t be fooled again, vote NO on G. Heads will roll and maybe we can get some competent management who will make the tough calls – ie, act as leaders not sheep – and get us back on track.

    (31) 39 Total Votes - 35 up - 4 down
  8. MarkGB says:

    You should let us know how you really feel about new taxes Denny.

    (-19) 27 Total Votes - 4 up - 23 down
  9. DennySLO says:

    Dan I have to commend you for your honesty and integrity. The other members of the Council have done nothing but lie and cater to the money mongers that keep their deceptions hidden from the public’s consumption (The Tribune is a key player here as well). The obvious relationship that the proponents of Measure “G”, renamed from Measure “Y” as you mention, rely heavily on revenue streams of taxpayer monies is bothersome and will not go quietly into the night without a fight. The citizens need to have the truth be printed and exposed along with the council that feeds them.
    Dan I would ask one thing, please send this to the Tribune and see if they publish your honest assessment of the dishonest and misleading behaviors of the other council members.
    It’s time that the led-by-the-nose, uninformed and misinformed citizens of SLO County be educated about this NEW TAX. YES, it’s a NEW TAX folks.
    Also, thank you for staying the course and doing the right thing and not kowtowing to the majority.

    (34) 46 Total Votes - 40 up - 6 down

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