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Note: Peter Q. Davis hosted the Café San Diego on Wednesday.
Saturday, May 12, 2007 | When financial problems arise, the solution is most often for our families and our businesses to cut cost and increase revenues.
The city faces a financial crisis and its efforts to cut costs seem to be centered on the elimination of unfilled positions and through attrition, by not filling jobs that come open.
Most people who have been involved in a staff reduction know that this is handled best not by “letting something happen” but by “making something happen.”
If salaries are frozen, and jobs not replaced, it is the good employees that leave.
The remaining employees are normally demoralized and create a constant undercurrent of criticism.
If we are going to save money cutting staff expenses, the effort to should be a proactive one.
Meanwhile, costs are going up, and we can’t cut costs continuously to cover the services we need, much less the ones we want.
We need to increase revenues, and I don’t mean by calling them fees. Nor do I mean by saddling them on the backs of the citizens.
There are several ways our city can raise revenues and cut costs.
As suggested in voiceofsandiego.org, CCDC can and should assume partial payment of the ballpark bonds immediately, increasing as its revenues do toward assuming the entire payment.
The mayor is the controlling officer of our redevelopment efforts and it would seem we only need his willpower to shift this burden. CCDC financial plans call for more parks downtown at a cost far exceeding the city’s ballpark bonds — parks are great, but if we have a financial crisis, let’s address it first.
Next, the port should waive the annual rental fee it charges the city for the convention center — and should assume the payment of the outstanding convention center bonds.
Both CCDC and the port have benefited far more than originally expected from these two civic developments, and both have the financial ability to assume these payments, in large part because of the success each has had in their revenue streams.
The hotel industry would like to recapture part of the taxes they pay for their use.
Can’t blame them, I’d like to recapture part of the taxes I pay for my benefit.
But the city needs the funds. And every other business in the city is expected to pay their taxes and cover their own marketing expenses, without city money.
Increasing the city’s hotel occupancy tax to a level other cities charge and using it for the benefit of the entire city would increase revenues by over $50 million a year and provide for more services to the public.
I’m sure some of you can add a couple of other revenue ideas which, added to these, would total $100 million a year. That’s a lot of money, and would sure help with “our needs,” and might even leave some left over for our wants.
All it takes is “willpower” for our council to demand to those they have appointed to the two boards vote to have their agencies assume the bonds, and for our elected officials to show the strength and vision our other city’s leaders have shown and start charging our visitors what they charge us when we visit their cities.
If we truly have a financial problem, why are we pussyfooting around?
Let’s just solve it!
Peter Q. Davis is a former port commissioner and former banker. Send a letter to the editor.