Raising The "T" Word (Taxes): Councilmembers Richardson, Kell & Reyes Uranga Want City Mgr. "To Conduct Further Research & Generate Ballot Initiatives To Address Critical Funding Needs Such As Increasing Public Safety"
Utility tax cutter Norm Ryan blasts move
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(June 20, 2005) -- Councilwoman Laura Richardson, who chairs the City Council's Budget Oversight Committee, and Councilwomen Jackie Kell and Tonia Reyes Uranga have jointly agendized an item for the June 21 Council meeting asking the City Manager to "conduct further research and recommend potential revenue-generating ballot initiatives in Long Beach as a means of addressing critical funding needs such as increasing public safety."
The development comes just days after CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special November 8 statewide election that will address multiple hot button issues likely to create a high voter turnout.
The Councilmembers' memo says "further in-depth analysis is necessary to establish the feasibility of these [LB revenue raising] options" and other cities which have done so have first engaged "professional input to determine the viability and magnitude of potential initiatives, types of election, public support, timing and identification of stakeholders."
Reached for comment, Norm Ryan, who led the grassroots 2000 petition drive to cut LB's 10% utility users tax to 5% (opposed by City Hall, passed with a near 70% citywide voter approval level) told LBReport.com:
It's a shame that the get rich quick schemes generated by the City Council over the past several years haven't paid off, but I don't think taxpayers should be gouged for that. We're the ones now paying for the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, Pine Ave. projects and the Aquarium.
I've told city management that raising the utility tax is a dead issue. There's no support for doing that.
And nobody has made the argument as to why we need to raise taxes as opposed to City Hall cutting costs. These people are essentially declaring their "Three Year Financial Plan" a failure, because the plan didn't promote raising taxes, it claimed we could balance the budget by living within our means. They have shown that for them this was a farce, a stall to wait three years in hopes the economy might improve while they put off hard decisions. These people are not willing to make hard decisions.
Mr. Ryan, reached out of state, said he would be unable to attend the June 21 Council meeting but would be monitoring developments closely.
We post the text of the Richardson-Kell-Uranga agendizing memo below:
[begin memo text]
SUBJECT: REQUEST CITY MANAGER TO CONDUCT FURTHER RESEARCH AND GENERATE BALLOT INITIATES TO ADDRESS CRITICAL FUNDING NEEDS
On September 7, 2004, as part of the adoption of the FY 05 Budget, the City Council approved the recommendation of the Budget Oversight Committee (BOC) to focus on potential resources that would address the structural deficit and possibly alleviate the amount of reductions to core public services and/or City personnel. During the past several months, the BOC has actively pursued research on seven viable revenue options including:
- Public Safety Revenue Options
- Library Assessment Tax
- Utility User Tax (UUT)
- Local Sales Tax
- Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)
- Parking Lot Tax
- Oil Production Tax
In addition to establishing a comprehensive understanding of the ballot initiative
process, the BOC explored the revenue generating potential of each measure
and obtained electoral results for all agencies in California that had similar ballot
initiatives in either the 2004 or 2005 elections.
Furthermore, the research conducted by the BOC provided detailed information
on each of the above measures including the type, electoral results, election
date, amounts, projected annual revenue, sunset date and purpose or possible
uses by surveying comparable agencies. The BOC's findings have been
prepared in a detailed report and will be provided in its entirety.
Although the information gathered by the BOC has laid a foundation, further in-
depth analysis is necessary to establish the feasibility of these options. When
surveying cities that have pursued initiatives such as Oakland, San Luis Obispo,
Porterville and Morgan Hill, it was found that prior to recommending specific
initiatives, the next step usually includes engaging professional input to
determine the viability and magnitude of potential initiatives, types of election,
public support, timing and identification of stakeholders.
Request the City Manager to conduct further research and recommend potential
revenue-generating ballot initiatives in Long Beach as a means of addressing
critical funding needs such as increasing public safety.
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