One Percent Wake-Up Call

The Santa Barbara City Council decision to seek voter approval for a one percent sales tax increase, resulting a 8.75 percent sales tax, is a citizen wake-up call: The financial and economic consequences must be investigated and analyzed as to the negative effects not only upon our citizens but also upon business sales, including, auto sales, real estate transactions and sales, restaurant sales, lodging sales, etc. Will revenue decrease? Will business tax income decrease as well as business investment?

The city’s public employment compensation practices and employee pensions are not acceptable nor sustainable. It is doubtful that city can meet its obligations, respecting public safety and property protection, and millions dollars in obligated deferred maintenance and infrastructure repair, and its millions of dollars of debt.

A full Grand Jury investigation must be conducted as to the city’s true financial condition, which should include its multimillion-dollar two-year financial plan for its Combined General Operating Budget and Capital Budget both for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 with their respective $1.9 million and $2.8 million deficits; all its short and long term debt obligations; its announced desire to borrow substantial funds; Public Employee Agreements, pension costs and unfunded pension liabilities; and individual city councilmember compensation, benefits, and expenses.

All the city departments’ offer to take a one percent decrease is a not acceptable. We have a city of only 90,000, faced with multimillions of dollars in costs and debt. The time has come for a real accounting. A citizen-brought restructuring bankruptcy is a real consideration.

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