Fake Fiscal Emergency

As we recently celebrated the Fourth of July, we are reminded that our founders resisted England, especially over the issue of “taxation without representation.” So, it is especially egregious that the mayor and City Council would be asking the city attorney to draft an ordinance declaring a “fiscal emergency” exists in the City of Long Beach so that they can ask voters to continue the highest sales tax in California.

Remember Measure A that promised if we increased our sales taxes it would only be for a short time? They promised infrastructure would be fixed. They promised public safety would be funded. They promised, they promised and they promised.

At the same time as we pay higher sales taxes, they began taxing the city utilities at 12 percent because of Measure M (which consequently increases the amounts of the utility use tax). And oil has returned to around $60 a barrel which brings the city increased revenue and additional taxes because of Prop H (which is solely used for public safety).

Oh, didn’t the city impose a very high tax on recreational marijuana sold in the city? Has that revenue gone up in smoke?

Why do they need to declare a fiscal emergency? Because the law requires that placing a tax on the ballot must be done at a general election – the election in which the mayor, auditor, city attorney, city prosecutor and Districts 1,3,5,7,9 are on the same ballot. The only time it can be placed on another ballot – at which city turn out is expected to be very low – is when the city declares a fiscal emergency.

There is no real fiscal emergency. This is fake. They just need to get around the general election requirement.

For a moment, let’s pretend the fiscal emergency is real. Why is the city in this situation? Again. Since the last fiscal emergency was declared by the mayor and Council, what have they done to avoid another?

Where is the sufficient evidence of a fiscal emergency? The mayor and City Council continue to spend and spend without any regard to revenue. Have they cut staff? No, in fact the mayor and other departments have expanded. Have they cut travel? No, the trips continue albeit Alabama was stopped for political reasons. Have they cut salaries or benefits? No, in fact they have been increased. Have they utilized performance measures in any of the city’s departments to determine if money is being spent effectively? Nope.

Is there a sufficient nexus between the emergency and the actions taken? Definitely not. The mayor and City Council are now adding a $25 million cost to retrofit Community Hospital – which will be operated by a private company – and calling it “needed infrastructure.”

Folks, I love Community Hospital but think for a moment why MemorialCare – the biggest non-profit healthcare company in the area – decided not to retrofit Community to keep an ER open or why the city never offered to assist. Comes along a privately-owned company and the mayor and City Council fall all over themselves to assist in raising taxes.

Have the mayor and City Council explored alternatives to continuing a high sales tax? Nope. No programs have been eliminated or consolidated. Nothing has changed in the structure of city government except they are about to move into a palatial edifice that is costing millions more than what was promised to the voters.

No one on the council will question the declaration of fiscal emergency. Voters, however, should reject this fake ploy to take even more taxes.

Gerrie Schipske

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Comments

I agree. Let private industry pay their own way. STOP letting our city be sold away from us at our own expense.

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