Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider provided a list of 15 individuals who cumulatively have donated or pledged $30,000 to her effort to collect enough signatures to qualify three initiatives for the November ballot. Schneider estimated the paid signature-gathering effort could cost as much as $40,000, depending on the number of volunteer signature gatherers who could be recruited. The list of donors includes liberals like Chuck Blitz, longtime philanthropist associated with homeless causes; publisher-philanthropist Sarah Miller McCune; Rob Pearson of the Housing Authority; Dave Davis of Community Environmental Council; and Dave Peri, who runs the prominent and politically connected accounting company Peri and Alvarado. In addition, the list includes the politically conservative former city attorney David Hughes, active with many nonprofits.
One of Schneider’s initiatives would increase the sales tax within city limits by half a cent; the proceeds would feed City Hall’s general fund, though an advisory measure is in the offering to split the increased sales tax revenues with the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Likewise, she’s proposing another initiative to increase the business tax on downtown bars and nightclubs to help defray the cost of law enforcement associated with that area, especially on weekends. Lastly, Schneider has proposed a measure that will require public-employee unions to pay the maximum the law allows into their retirement funds, which, if approved, would have most impact on firefighters and police officers.
This Thursday morning, members of the Downtown Organization — many of whose members are leery about the proposed tax hike, will discuss the pros and cons of Schneider’s proposal. Thursday evening, the Democratic Central Committee, which all but opposed her initiatives last month, will meet with Schneider to discuss her plans.