Voters can ensure local funding
A sweeping California petition drive will send an initiative to the Nov. 2 ballot that guarantees the state maintain local government funds such as vehicle license fees.
More than 1.1 million signatures were collected for the initiative called the Local Taxpayers and Public Safety Protection Act. The goal was 598,105, dwarfing the number filed with the Counties Registrar of Voters on April 16.
The measure sponsored by the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and special districts changes the state constitution to ensure the money stays in the cities, which have struggled with uncharacteristic budget deficits. More than 300 cities have signed resolutions coming out in support of the measure, including South Lake Tahoe.
Councilman John Upton was joined by a few city employees – deemed on their own time because of stringent legal guidelines against being on the clock – in contributing to the signature drive.
Sponsors had banked over $1 million for the petition drive.
In exchange for local governments helping him with the budget over the next two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has pledged support for constitutional reform that would achieve protection, League spokeswoman Megan Taylor said Monday.
“We think the kind of concerns we have are all over the state,” Upton said Monday, predicting the initiative will pass.
City Manager Dave Jinkens agreed.
“We think there’s strong support in the state for protecting local revenue,” Jinkens said.
The city has long grappled with diminishing local revenues that have dented the $60 million total budget. As part of the assurance the buck stops here, city officials are considering a number of ways to ensure new sources of funds. They range from an admissions fee on special events to a sales tax measure that raises the rate of 7.25 percent by a quarter-, half-, three-quarters or 1 percent. It takes voter approval to raise the rate, from which the city gets 1 percent of the tax collections. It’s estimated another 1 percent would put an additional $4 million into city coffers.
The City Council may decide next month on its choice after assessing the outcome of a community survey sent out earlier this month.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org