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The Escondido council voted Wednesday to place a revenue measure on the November ballot that could generate enough money to ease the city’s budget issues. If approved by voters, it would implement a 3/4-cent sales tax increase for 15 years that would generate approximately $21 million annually.
City staff originally recommended a one-cent tax increase with no end date, but there was not enough support from the entire City Council. The council ultimately approved the measure 4-1, with Councilman Joe Garcia opposed.
For many residents, the council’s support of the measure has been a long time coming after it rejected a similar one two years ago despite positive financial projections and strong polling results that showed community support.
Dozens of residents urged the council members at the meeting this week to pass the measure, with only a few residents opposed to it.
“Thanks to our partnership, thanks to your support… we are helping people overcome homelessness,” said Interfaith Community Services CEO Greg Anglea. “The voters should decide if they want to put support toward the number one issue that’s often cited – homelessness here in Escondido.”
According to a recent community survey commissioned by the city, more than 60 percent of the 1,000 Escondido voters surveyed indicated support for the proposed sales tax hike.
Escondido had to close an $8.5 million deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal year and projects that deficit to grow to $10 million annually over the next five years. The city has had to make significant cuts to city services over the past few years as the budget gap continues to widen.
The current sales tax rate in Escondido is 7.75 percent, whereas cities like Del Mar, Oceanside, Vista, El Cajon, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and La Mesa have an 8.25 percent sales tax rate.
Regrettably this article leaves out any mention of the reason why the Escondido budget is in need of more revenue, which is their government’s spending on itself, particularly in the form of funding it’s own retirement/pension benefits.
This tax will (they say) generate $28 million. If one looks at actual data, one will see that Escondido is expected to pay CalPERS an additional payment of $26.3 million in 2022-23.
This is not the normal payment to fund employee pensions. That payment is tens of millions already. The $26M is a payment on top of the normal contribution, needed to fully fund the very-generous payouts expected by city employees – for themselves.
This tax has nothing to do with helping the homeless or providing any other benefits for city residents, it’s all about providing money to employees.
If city residents feel that is important then they should vote for this tax increase, but let’s not lie to them by claiming the money is needed for services to residents, not benefits for employees.
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