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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Complete waste of taxpayer money. Stop the unbelievable salaries of the Govt. employees and their ridiculous pensions and benefits. Let get real people, these Govt. employees don’t really benefit us, they only benefit themselves.

This opinion piece is an embarrassment. The Chamber gets $350,000 a year in subsidies from the city of SLO so of course the Chamber will support the city’s demands for more money.

Measure G-20 will provide a PERMANENT source of revenue that will then be used to underwrite the CalPERS pension debt (in excess of $170,000,000 and counting), pension bonds, and bonds for everything else.

Look where the Measure G money has gone – o wait, you don’t know? No one else does either. It goes into the general fund with no specific designation. There is absolutely no accountability, just empty promises.

Put the city on a fiscal diet – defy the bureaucrats and their lapdogs at the Chamber and vote NO on G-20. The sky won’t fall.

City, County, State and Federal Government need to get smaller and live within their means just like households do.

There are too many repetitive agencies that do nothing but waste taxpayers money.

There should be term limits and caps on what an employee $$$ makes. If it’s a free-market the sky’s the limit. These Government employees forget they are paid for and work for the taxpayers.

READ MY LIPS….. if this does pass just raise the rent

Taxes are constantly going up. Sales tax is a percentage and as the price of something increases, so does the tax. Property taxes are also a percentage and go up 2% per year to existing owners and they reset to fair market value upon transfer. So the government has always recieved increases and yet they still managed to overspend their budget every year. Plus they are not spending the over budget money on goodies for the citizens, they are spending it on benefits for the government employees. Giving them an increase is like giving a junkie an increase, it does not solve any problems.

Jeff, would you mind letting everyone know what flavor of “Kool-Aid” you were drinking when you were composing this blatant untruth..

The vast majority of residents do not believe cities spend our money correctly. Most have a long track record of fiscal mis-management. Out of control salaries and benefits.

Now you believe is it prudent to give then more money – really! Compliance and complacency take on a whole new meaning.

And why is that the cities favor raising sales tax as a source on revenue? Because it is easy – just spend taxpayer money on some outside consultants to conduct some ‘gloom and doom’ analysis of life here and then spin this into making residents feel everything will fall apart if we don’t just roll over and raise our taxes. Is this the life we all worked for? And the life we want to leave for our children?

Why don’t we have cities that will really work for their residents. For example, you and everyone else pay thousands of dollars in property tax every year; but very little of that is returned to the city where is was collected and used for the benefit of the people that pays it. Why is that? For one,

the cities are afraid of upsetting the ‘status-quo’ and going after a much larger share of the tax you and I pay every year. And 2nd, this would be fight that would be a little tougher than just raising sales tax. But it would show very strongly that cities are willing to fight for what is right.

So I say vote NO on G-20. Paso should vote NO on J-20. All tax increase measures should be soundly defeated. The way cities get funding needs to change.

Sorry Jeff, as a very aware person at the time Prop 13 was promoted and thankfully passed, there clearly was and still is a problem with the constant threat of new taxes. Prop 13 set firm parameters on property taxes so that people could let their guard down and would not be taxed out of their homes. We all know people who have taken their FAT California pensions and retired to another state, where the locals who have the same type of employment work longer and retire with less. I would vote in support for local government reform, not taxpayer reform. Measure G-20 is a taxpayer reform, another transfer from our budget to pad a government budget. Boy have things evolved, first we had politicians holding babies, then poorly funded schools and now we threaten degradation in public safety, all for the support of new taxes. Never is the right time for new taxes and be cautioned by the slogan “The New Normal” when we are supposed to forget normal and embrace diversity.

Jeff, you couldn’t be more wrong. Your rose colored glasses are not allowing you to see reality. Let’s play a game of ‘what if’. What if other propositions pass that raise taxes? Property tax increase on commercial properties will be passed on to the small business renters, who will pass it on to the consumers. When was the last time the shopper in front of you at a store had to put something back because of taxes? I see far too often. SLO City has been more than fiscally irresponsible and has failed our community at every level. Funding for homeless services? Have you seen the incredibly beautiful, expensive building on Prado Rd and the lovely line of vehicles parked under the no parking signs? What’s next, running water and power for the Heidi camps in our creeks and along the Bob Jones Trail? You’d best think this one through a bit more.

Jeff, you are truly a nice guy. BUT , you are wrong here and you’re being used by the City socialists. NO on G. Bad idea, especially in light of uncertain economy in 2021.