Loans for City Employees

I really enjoy reading the Santa Barbara Independent from cover to cover. However, I found the latest issue to contain two dueling messages that I find extremely disturbing. The first is the review of the controversial home loans by the City of Santa Barbara to its own employees. I worked for 30 years for a state agency and at no time was a personal loan for residence ever offered nor considered by the state. Reason: Conflict of interest.

Moneys derived from agency-imposed public taxes or other public funds may never and should never be used for the personal benefit of the agency’s employees. My home was solely funded by the earnings of my wife and myself and a home loan from a local bank on its terms. We are still paying for this loan over decades of interest and principal. Although financially challenged, we are proud of this effort and accomplishment.

Other entities (University of California) were previously cited as also offering employees like benefits, in a way justifying the City of Santa Barbara for doing likewise. The major difference is that UC is a personal choice that the public seeks for better education. City of SB taxes, sales tax, public parking fees, and other expenses are not the choice of the residents or businesses. They are simply imposed by the city.

The second dueling message was the title of the cover story: “It’s Not Easy Being Green” (not the intended message but ironic of its own accord). It is easy being green if you are a prominent City of Santa Barbara employee. You can get monetary benefits from public funds that nobody else can. And you do not have to take it to the bank. Your employer is the bank. Shame on the City of Santa Barbara and those that accepted these loans.

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