Buellton is in great fiscal shape. So, why is this such an important election? And, why is it vital that voters kick the tires to be sure that who they are voting for has our community’s best interests at heart?
According to the Santa Maria Times (6/14/2016), Buellton had the highest per capita rate of sales tax revenue in Santa Barbara County in 2015. Additionally, our city generated in its last budget cycle more than $1.7 million into our General Fund through TOT, a tourism bed tax.
Why then is it that our community does not have safe streets? Many of our main commercial and neighborhood roads do not have sidewalks or adequate street lighting. Our city is not pedestrian or bike friendly. And, the long-promised river trail that would connect Riverview Park to our downtown has yet to be constructed.
Our city currently gives 20.88 percent of our TOT to the Buellton Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Bureau — approximately $375,000 annually — to market our community to tourists. Yet once they arrive, we have few safe streets for them to walk between our hotels and excellent restaurants, wineries, breweries, and parks. In fact, we have yet to realize a functional downtown to entice retail shopping, which would further increase our tax revenue.
In this election, I am voting to reelect Leo Elovitz for City Council. He has worked hard to fulfill his promises to make Buellton’s finances transparent. He has fought for better and more inclusive communication between city government and residents. He has succeeded in pushing the council to set aside funds for a river trail system and wants to see the same done now for our eventual downtown. He also has worked hard to develop a cooperative culture to minimize Buellton’s tourism dollars being spent on duplicative efforts to promote the Santa Ynez Valley and more cost-effectively target its marketing strategies.
I believe we need a councilmember with Leo’s vision, hard-working ethic, and proven success in making our community better.