Is your home town worth a penny?
We think it is. Voters in Garden Grove will be asked on Nov. 6 to approve a one-cent sales tax to provide needed revenue to the city, which means – if you live in the “Big Strawberry” – the place where you live, send your kids to school, shop and perhaps even work.
No one likes to pay extra taxes, but there comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to dig a little deeper to make ends meet and get what you need. It’s estimated that such a tax would raise about $19 million annually. So let’s take a look at why Measure O is a necessary and prudent move.
- Why does the city need more money?
The principal cause of the “structural deficit” for Garden Grove and many other cities across California is a change in the state employees retirement fund. Simply put, the cost of pensions has gone up dramatically and Sacramento wants the cities to pay a lot more than in the past. Garden Grove has been dipping into reserves and cutting expenses to balance the budget, but that can’t go on forever.
- Why can’t the city “live within its means”?
Because in this case, that would mean slashing services by cutting jobs, programs and salaries. Recreation programs, code enforcement and needed increases in police and fire personnel would probably be the first to go. What you’d end up with is a skeleton of the city, which would not only pose serious public safety issues but also endanger property values.
- Why not just have a tax for police and fire?
Under state law, a specific tax must get a two-thirds approval from voters, while a general purpose tax requires only a majority. Experience has shown that it’s near impossible to get a two-thirds vote on just about anything.
- We raised “bed taxes” on visitors to hotels. What happened to that?
The increase in what’s officially called a “transient occupancy tax” did help; about one-quarter of the city’s general fund comes from there. But that was then, this is now. The “unfunded pension liabilities” are requiring another source of revenue.
- How can we be sure that the tax money goes into public safety?
Right now, about 70 percent of the city budget goes to police and fire, so it’s almost certain that at least 70 percent of new sales tax revenue will go there as well. Also, it would be nice to have some money to pay for other things the community needs, such as code enforcement, public works, parks, youth and senior programs, etc.
- Why a sales tax? Isn’t that regressive?
A sales tax makes sense because it falls equally on resident and visitor, rather than exclusively on the resident. Every tourist at the Hyatt who crosses the street to shop at Target is helping to support Garden Grove economically. Millions of visitors come to town each year: why not have them help pay for the roads and police and fire protection?
We support a “yes” vote on Measure O because it:
- solves a very real financial crisis
- protects property values and public safety
- doesn’t put the whole burden on residents
- will help our hometown to grow and prosper.
Vote yes on Measure O. It’ll turn out to be the best penny you ever spent.