Last November, voters clearly told City Council that we were not interested in a tax increase unless it was specific and left no wiggle room for city staff to bait and switch.
The wording of the upcoming April ballot initiative, 1-A, to raise sales tax must be read carefully. The story from City Hall is the new money collected from the tax will strictly be spent to reconstruct crumbling streets. If that is really what they need, why does 1-A allow for “operation and maintenance”?
Here’s how the bait and switch will work. The city budget (before the tax increase) currently includes $3 million for the operation and maintenance of streets. If 1-A passes, the city could use the new money generated from 1-A for the $3 million previously budgeted for the operation and maintenance of streets. The $3 million of old money is then available to do a whole variety of things unrelated to our streets.
The current Council may say this technique will not be used, but city councilors come and go and this tax goes on for years after these councilors have left.
The only thing voters can trust is the actual ballot language. Restrictive language could have been included but city staff obviously do not want the voters limiting how the new money will be spent.
Again, council limited citizen input in their rush to increase taxes, resulting in another poorly written initiative.
Vote no on 1-A. There’s a better way.