Billy Bob Henry is perhaps right that the “attentive public” is aware that the city’s fiscal problems are far from over, but many citizens who do not pay much attention to local politics may have the impression that the fiscal situation has significantly improved, in large part because the media has gone out of “crisis mode” in their reporting. My students, for example, are shocked to find out how bad San Diego’s fiscal situation is.
I agree with Ian Trowbridge that phasing in changes to Proposition 13 might be a good idea. I’m also not opposed to Howiek’s idea of changing real estate taxation for commercial properties but keeping the status quo for homeowners — it would certainly be an improvement. Howiek’s suggestion that we radically alter the sales tax system also has some merit, but this may prove to be as politically problematic as altering the property tax system — every business that produces taxable goods and services would have an army of lobbyists out in force. Howiek, however, is incorrect that the “state takes and keeps most of the property tax revenue.” About 62 percent of property tax revenue is used for schools, and this is collected by the state and redistributed equally to school districts. The remaining 38 percent is given directly to local governments (mostly cities and counties). No property tax revenue ever makes it into the state general fund. For more information, check out the assessor-recorder’s annual report.
— BRIAN ADAMS