There was no shortage of positives for Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider (pictured) to accentuate in her annual State of the City address this Tuesday before the Chamber of Commerce — and she certainly did just that. But the not-so-subtle subtext was that City Hall needs a new revenue source if it hopes to put a dent in the $368 million in unfunded infrastructure needs. Neither Schneider nor City Administrator Jim Armstrong — who also spoke — mentioned a sales-tax increase or any other tax by name. But when asked afterward if such a tax might be a reasonable expectation, Armstrong replied, “That is a pretty logical conclusion.”
In his remarks, Armstrong praised previous council leaders for having “the courage” to invest in the city’s system of parks, streets, bridges, and infrastructure. “But as you drive around our city,” he said, “it is clear that many of these facilities are long beyond their useful life and need to be replaced or restored.” Schneider took pride in the city’s ability to weather the recent recession and highlighted many of the new bridges, hotels, museums, and shops now springing to life. She praised City Hall’s Restorative Policing team and added that housing had been secured for 114 chronically homeless people since last May. Likewise, she noted that the number of juveniles on probation with gang terms and conditions dropped almost by half in the past five years.