San Diego City Councilman’s Mark Kersey’s infrastructure ballot measure sure looks like it’s going on the June ballot. Last month, Council President Sherri Lightner endorsed the idea, which, if approved, would dedicate a large portion of the city’s projected future tax dollars to street, sidewalk and other repairs. Then last week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer jumped aboard.
Indeed, Tevlin called Kersey’s ballot measure prudent – provided that it’s flexible enough for the city to do away with its requirements in emergencies. But if you read her report closely, Tevlin essentially says that Kersey’s idea isn’t going to fix the city’s massive infrastructure problems:
As we have stated in numerous reports and presentations over the past several years, addressing the City’s extensive infrastructure needs remains the most significant financial challenge facing the City of San Diego. Based on the magnitude of the problem, we advocated for a new dedicated funding source to be identified such as a reasonable increase to either sales tax or property tax, in a June 2015 report to the Infrastructure Committee (“Ballot Scenarios for Infrastructure Funding”).
Tevlin also notes, “a new revenue source is needed and should remain a priority for the near future” for infrastructure.
Translation: Any infrastructure solution that doesn’t include a tax increase won’t generate enough money. Remember that our infrastructure deficit over the next five years is $1.4 billion, and Tevlin warns in her report that we still don’t know the condition of everything in the city that needs repairs and how much it’ll cost to fix. Alternatively, the city could make massive cuts to other services to properly fund infrastructure without a tax increase, but no plan like that is on the table.
Ideas like Kersey’s might provide some window dressing by formally dedicating existing tax dollars to infrastructure, but the math proves that the city still has a long way to go.