A sales tax increase will generate enormous benefits to all SLO residents

October 18, 2020

Jeff Buckingham


Anybody who knows me might expect me to agree with Keith Gurnee’s opposition to San Luis Obispo City’s Measure G-20. Indeed, as a registered Libertarian, I generally lean against taxes.

But I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Gurnee. I strongly urge SLO City residents to vote yes on Measure G-20. This net increase of 1 percent on our sales tax is a small investment with a big payout for the entire community as outlined below.

I view Measure G-20 as a tool to help us achieve a larger vision that will benefit the entire community. It’s about continuing decades of effort to create a community that ignites creativity, celebrates diversity and spurs innovation.

This vision is eloquently outlined in the fourth revision of the SLO Chamber’s Economic Vision Document, Imagine SLO.

The process of continuously improving SLO, of striving to preserve and enhance a great quality of life, began as a bipartisan effort decades ago. It has involved hard work by hundreds of community-minded business and civic leaders from all walks of life and all parts of the political spectrum.

This work has accomplished much. To name a few achievements:

– Establishing Leadership SLO to build a diverse network of connected leaders countywide.

– The development of the SLO airport as the county’s transportation hub, which now provides many direct flights throughout the West;

– The viability of the airport-area annexation plan, which has provided land for business expansion and workforce housing.

– The preservation and expansion of the green belt of city-owned public open spaces and viable agricultural land that establishes SLO as a unique community with separation from other cities.

Measure G-20 is one small but important part of striving to fulfill an ambitious vision. A vote against G-20 at this time would have a much higher opportunity cost than its opponents realize or would have voters believe.

Now, not later: Opponents argue that now is not the time because businesses are hurting. Indeed, many are. But Beacon Economics has told us that the current economic downturn, while serious, is very different from past recessions in that the resources exist for the economy to recover quickly. And contrary to opponents’ claims, there is no evidence that such a small sales tax increase has ever hurt a community’s business environment, especially considering that Measure G-20 will keep our sales tax rate in line with regional competitors, and lower than many cities across the state.

The defunding if G-20 fails: Measure G-20 will support appropriate police reform, including more support for mental health and homeless services, and it will prevent reckless defunding proposals.

But defunding is exactly what will happen if Measure G fails. During these times, the city simply cannot decrease sales tax to an outdated 2005 level without drastic cuts in public safety, parks and green belt expansion, childcare and senior programs, street maintenance and other vital services.

For me, Measure G-20 is a way of asking each of us what we see in the mirror. Do we see ourselves as a community of people who work together from across the region to tackle shared challenges, drive economic growth and preserve our natural resources? Or do we want to take pride in how efficiently we cut our budget, in having fewer police officers per capita than another community, slower response times to emergencies and little ability to help the embarrassing number of our fellow citizens who are unhoused and ill-treated?

As a community, we are rightly proud of San Luis Obispo’s extraordinary quality of life. This is no accident. It’s the product of our collective strength, compassion and resiliency, and it requires our continuous investment.

Please join me in investing in our future. Please vote YES on Measure G-20.

Jeff Buckingham is best known as a leader in the local telecommunication industry and a community volunteer. The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce named him citizen of the year in 2018.

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SLO’s revised FY 20-21 projects a 11% reduction in revenue. Yet, it only proposes a 6% reduction in expenditures. They tell you that defunding is the end of the world, but it isn’t. Defunding and deferring expenditures are logical steps to take when revenues go down. Otherwise, there is no incentive to remain fiscally responsible. It is also a good way to force a municipality to cut the fat, sort of thinning the forest.

Let’s start with ending the corruption and cronyism in our local government.

Until then, stop expecting us to trust them with more money.

Interesting that you support a regressive tax increase but you publically oppose a property tax increase. So you like the tax increase that affects others and oppose the one that affects you.

A real message would be sent if the measure failed by a HUGE margin. Sadly I predict it passes comfortably.

Another tax increase, this is like taking a cat turd out of the litter box, rolling in in powered sugar and telling me it’s a donut. NO MORE TAXES.

Before you raise taxes show me one cost saving measure taken by the city. I’ll wait. Nothing comes to mind? Then forget the tax increase.

The Chamber should of named him the newest member of the SLO Socialist Party. How about showing us in detail where and what the last must need tax increase got us.

Tone Deaf on this regressive tax.

Gee, if you’ll only give us more money, we’ll fix everything. HaHaHa……Don’t listen to this SLO Chamber diatribe whose hand is deep into the pocket of the City.

Vote NO on Measure G-20.

Thanks Jeff. You make the point quite clearly that this tax is being pushed by rich people at the Chamber and developers. We owe you thanks for doing that so clearly, for the clique of “economic leaders” who run this town and think we owe it to them to cough up whatever they want is exactly the problem with G. It’s a power grab disguised as a money grab. No on G.