In response to unmet infrastructure needs totaling about $150 million, the Santa Barbara City Council authorized the creation of a new citizen task force to tap the community’s best minds on how to raise the funds needed to bridge that gap.
The committee will be made up of seven people. But unlike most city boards and commissions, members will be actively solicited to join based on their expertise and experience. City Administrator Jim Armstrong will be looking not just for experts in municipal financing but also public outreach-to help sell whatever form of tax increase that emerges and environmental analysts who can take a credible measure of a project’s impacts. Armstrong said the growing shortfall between available finances and infrastructure needs-such as a new police station-was many years in the making, and will take years to address. He cited cuts in federal and state funding to cities as one cause. He also said gas tax revenues have not kept pace with inflations because the cities’ percentage is a fixed percent. The idea was embraced by the entire council.