The property taxes generated from oil production are of great importance to education and public safety in Northern Santa Barbara County.
Unlike the South County, the North County isn’t dotted with great numbers of multimillion-dollar estates that create sizable property tax revenues for our southern neighbors. Property values are lower in the north, and a good many of the homes in Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Lompoc benefit from reduced property tax bills due to Prop. 13 limitations. In addition, much of the unincorporated land in the North County is agricultural and is covered by the Williamson Act’s reduced property tax rates, which were granted to protect the economic viability of our important farming and ranching community.
The direct result of these factors is that the property taxes generated from homes and rural properties in the North County are far smaller than those of the South County.
Measure P supporters dismiss the $16 million in annual property taxes paid by the petroleum industry as trivial, but, given the reduced tax base of the North County, it is critically important, particularly to our schools and our public safety employees. Oil company–paid property taxes are of immense importance since they restore a great deal of the rural tax base that has been reduced due to Williamson Act protections of our precious agricultural community.
The North County jail will soon begin construction, and the Santa Maria-Bonita School District hopes to bass a bond for new school construction. Staffing of both will be paid by property tax revenues. That “trivial” $16 million goes a long way toward paying existing teachers and public safety employees, and will be even more necessary after these new facilities are built. If that oil-generated revenue goes away, new funding will be necessary. Where will the county seek it? From all of us. Please help to avoid future tax increases by voting “no” on Measure P.