The Morning Report
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Meanwhile, in Chula Vista, the day of reckoning approacheth.
Police officers are leaving messages on phones of residents with threatening tales about what will happen to their lives and property if they don’t approve the 1 percent sales tax increase they will be voting on through the mail.
I was amused to read that Tuesday evening the Chula Vista City Council is going to consider a resolution. It’s a bit complicated so let me see if I can do this correctly: The resolution would declare that if voters approve this desperate sales tax measure with their mail-in ballots due May 5, they should be asked to vote again in June of this year (a month later) whether they should be asked to vote again on the sales tax in 2014.
I know. Like Wall Street traders, San Diego-area politicians can come up with some really creative derivative products. This is a classic. Putting an end date on a tax increase is a way of communicating that yes, you want to raise taxes, but no, it’s not permanent and someone else can extend it. Asking residents to decide again, in five years, about the tax increase you set for 10 years is a way of saying “Um, maybe we shouldn’t have set this for 10 years.”
There’s obviously some bit of controversy in Chula Vista right now. If the sales tax measure doesn’t pass “Chula Vista will not look the same way” as Councilman Rudy Ramirez told me.
Frankly, I don’t know that it should look the same way. The city is in true panic mode. It is so desperate for money, it can’t even wait until the next election to ask voters for the sales tax increase. Its citizens will go from paying 7.75 percent sales tax to 9.75 percent sales tax in a matter of months because the state is also increasing its rate.
If it doesn’t pass, the city has said it will have to cut recreation centers, libraries, and, yes, police officers.
Remember, cities have more or less four very core functions that absolutely must be performed or basic health and safety are threatened. 1) They have to pick up trash and dispose of sewage; 2) They have to provide water; 3) They have to provide emergency assistance and fire protection and; 4) They have to provide police to protect and serve.
You can cut about anything but once you start cutting one of those four areas, you are entering into true third-world territory. If Chula Vista is really so debt-ridden, really so unbalanced, that it’s going to cut out supposedly vital public safety officers, its leaders simply must consider, instead, calling their many many debtors into the room and telling them that they just might not be able to pay off the many many loans they borrowed when times were good.