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No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

In a vote-by-mail election set for August, 2005, Santa Cruz residents will be asked to approve another utility tax. Of all the things to tax, essentials are the worst possible choice. Whether you're rich or poor, you still have to flush the toilet.

The proposed 3 to 12% utility tax comes on top of a 7% utility tax and is made worse by a massive, multi-year, 124% increase in city water rates, not to mention a backward water pricing scheme that already has small users paying up to 580% more per gallon than big users.

As usual, Santa Cruz City Council calls itself progressive but doesn't behave that way. Please join me in voting no on Measure X.

The City of Santa Cruz has since the 1960s been charging more for water, sewer and garbage collection services than it spends on those services. The profit goes into the general fund, to be used for other things. Each time you flush the toilet, you are contributing to miscellaneous City programs.

In 1996, California voters tried to put a stop to this. Among other things, Proposition 218 effectively forbids city-owned utilities from earning a profit. They can only charge for "capital costs [and] maintenance and operation expenses". After all, publicly-owned utilities often tout fair pricing and the absence of a profit motive as advantages. If a city wants to pad utility rates, that's called a tax, and it requires approval from the voters.

Santa Cruz ignored the law for almost a decade. Recent court decisions affecting Fresno and Roseville have forced the issue. By reducing water, sewer and garbage collection fees to cost, Santa Cruz will lose about 4 million dollars a year.

Instead of crafting a tax measure that would have shielded low-income earners, City Council took the easy way out. Council chose the status quo, that is, padding utility bills to pay for other City programs. Of all the things to tax, essentials are the worst possible choice. Whether you're rich or poor, you still have to flush the toilet. Even a sales tax is better, because essentials like food are exempt.

Proposed tax rates are 3% for water and sewer and 12% for garbage collection. The City also charges a 7% tax on these services.

Worse yet, City Council has chosen a water pricing scheme that penalizes small users and rewards big users. The smallest reasonable consumption for a (one-person) household is about 375 gallons a month. For that, the effective rate is 3.4 cents a gallon. If the household consumes 750 gallons a month, the effective rate is 1.7 cents a gallon. If the household consumes between 3,000 and 11,250 gallons a month, the effective rate is just 0.5 cents a gallon! A family that tries to cut its bill by conserving water only ends up paying a higher price per gallon.

To add insult to injury, the City is in the middle of a 6-year, 124% increase in water rates. By 2009, you will be paying more than double what you paid in 2004.

Now, you may never have seen a bill for City utility taxes. If you rent in an older, multi-unit building, your landlord pays these taxes, and the cost is buried in your rent. Either way, utility taxes are significant. No one, rich or poor, is exempt. Indeed, the poor devote a larger share of their income to utility taxes than do the rich.

Please vote no on X! Better alternatives include another small sales tax increase or -- horror of horrors -- a serious effort to hold employee compensation to the cost of living.*


* Between 2002 and 2005, average per-employee personnel spending for the City of Santa Cruz is expected to have increased by 19% [author's note: figure revised downward on 2005-06-19 due to an inconsistency in the meaning of "general fund" in the City's earlier budgets]. This includes all the kinds of "pay" a City employee receives in return for her work, from wages to pension contributions to health insurance premiums. The Consumer Price Index has increased by just 5% during this period. The CPI includes all the goods and services a typical person consumes, such as housing, medical care, food, transportation, and entertainment. Even cigarette prices are factored in! I've used CPI figures for the local area. The dirty secret is that City Council has been chopping services, laying off employees, and raising taxes, all to fund massive giveaways to the remaining employees. For example, at the height of the financial crisis, Council gave police a "3% at 50" retirement package, allowing an officer to retire at age 50 (!) and draw up to 90% (!) of her final salary.


Measure X (2005) documents, Santa Cruz County elections,

Measure P (2002) voter information pampthlet entries, Santa Cruz County elections,

Increases to Water Rates and Ready-to-Serve Charges, Santa Cruz City Council,

Minutes of June 8, 2004 meeting, Santa Cruz City Council,

Understanding Proposition 218, Legislative Analyst's Office,

Rate Schedule for Santa Cruz Municipal Utilities,

2001-2002 Budget (Final) - General Fund Recap by Object, City of Santa Cruz,

2002-2003 Budget (Final) - Personnel Recap, City of Santa Cruz,

2005-2006 Budget (Proposed) - Financial Summaries, City of Santa Cruz,

2005-2006 Budget (Proposed) - Personnel Recap, City of Santa Cruz,

Consumer Price Index-All Urban Consumers - Area: San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA, Item: All Items, Dates: April, 2002 and April, 2005, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
[Important Notes: Santa Cruz County is part of the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Metropolitan Statistical Area. April is the latest-available month for 2005, hence my choice of an April to April window rather than an exact match of the City's July to July budget window.]

Library $700,000 in the red, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Public retirement costs continue to rise, Santa Cruz Sentinel,

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Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Where is the problem? No one is investigating the need to upgrade or repair anything at all. Where is the need? This smells like an excuse to raise taxes and nothing more. My water bill is too high, but that is the only complaint I have about water service here. is still a work-in-progress

Just letting folks know that is still a work-in-progress. Feedback, please! I am particularly interested in suggestions for presenting the information so that a wide swath of voters will find it interesting. My guess is that there will be some unlikely allies (and some typical foes).

Over the next few days I will add a neat page that shows how the City charges higher prices (and hence, higher taxes) to the smallest water users. On one side, you'll see the misleading graph from p. 2 of the "SCUM Review" newsletter that City water customers recently received. On the other side, you'll see breakdowns of real water bills, with the monthly minimum factored in. Quite apart from the question of Measure X, this pricing scheme is wrong, because it discourages water conservation!

Another page will show specific City budget figures. Basically, the City is spending more and more money on fewer and fewer employees. This layoffs-for-raises policy is devastating for younger workers (who get laid off) and for City services (which become so expensive, per unit of service, that they can't be sustained).

I am also eager to hear from people who support Measure X. Spirited debate is always good.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Measure X is NOT an increase in anyone's taxes or rates.

It substitutes a tax for an existing fee that was on the books before the passage of a right-wing-sponsored state ballot measure that requires votes on what it defines as taxes.

I am amazed that the original poster is perpetuating the lies that our local conservatives are telling about this situation.

Measure X has nothing to do with proposed water/sewer rate increases.

The original poster's comments about City staff also leave me wondering -- this sounds like more right-wing anti-government-ism, not progressive politics. Why isn't he attacking the corporate-Schwarzenegger takebacks?

Please Vote YES on X.

Progressives don't support regressive taxes

Given a choice of things to tax, a progressive would avoid taxing essentials, on the grounds that people with the lowest income spend most of their income on essentials. Given the taxation choices available at the municipal level in California,* a progressive would pick a sales tax (which exempts all services, including essentials like water, sewer, and garbage collection -- as well as essential goods like food and prescription drugs, so there isn't much "regressiveness" slipped in elsewhere). A progressive would not pick a utility tax, which by its very nature taxes essential services.

And yes, Measure X has everything to do with water rates. This measure taxes water. Because the City is raising its water rates so drastically, the "take" from Measure X will also increase drastically.

A progressive should be concerned about City government spending practices that call for laying off (junior/politically less important) employees to give (senior/politically more important) employees raises. The progressive would favor modest gains for all of the employees. Could a progressive justify giving raises and full-pension-at-50 to police, and cutting hours at Louden Nelson to pay for these things?

Re: parrotting conservative ideas, I haven't talked with any conservatives about Measure X. To whom would I talk? There is no organized opposition to X. The ideas presented here are my own. They are backed up and referenced.

* About municipal taxation choices: Some other states, like Pennsylvania, allow cities to levy income taxes (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh do it). A sales tax is already much less regressive than a utility tax, but an income tax is even better. Unfortunately, California does not allow cities to have income taxes.


Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

No on X, just stop taxing people. All people. We won't be equal until we stop attacking each other over class prejudice. If I want something I have to work to earn the money to buy it. Why should government be any different? I'm sick and tired of this endless tug-of-war. Tax the rich, repress the poor. Grow up! You want something? Earn it like the rest of us have to! "Taxes are stealing!" - Corporate Avenger

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

I'm surprised about these writings opposing Measure X.
As a City Council member, I have focussed on this possible loss of the existing franchise fees. Thanks to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's association, this long-standing revenue for the City's general operations must either be approved by the voters as a tax, or discontinued.
That in itself is fine, we live in a country of elections and courts and we follow the law. I personally took part in discussions on what to do about the loss of revenue if we lose the franchise fee and I'm happy that we're going to ask the voters about it. Frankly, a loss of City revenue in the vicinity of $3,000,000 would be VERY hard for the City to simply absorb. IMPOSSIBLE would be the correct word.
So, what to do? The only sensible answer is to ask our residents to continue what we have been doing for decades. Failure to ask the voters this question would have been completely irresponsible.
And, what if this measure fails to gain voter approval? What then? Since 9/11, the City has been steadily reducing the size of its work force. Over $7,000,000 annually in cuts and numerous positions not filled.
I think, in a real sense, we have been too good at making so many cuts and all the while trying to continue the same level of operations as residents have grown accustomed to. But, we can't do that forever. Already, far too many people are trying to do the work of two or more. It certainly can't continue if we lose on measure X. REAL services important to our community will have to be discontinued. I don't want to see that happen! I don't want to cut our parks or our recreation programs. I want to keep the entire beach and lifeguard program. I want to keep the pool, the teen center, Louden Nelson. I want Police and Fire services kept at current levels or expanded!
We need to fix this revenue problem now. There is no time to wait. Later, we need to do a more systemic repair of City finances but THIS question must be answered in August.
Measure X is set up to CONTINUE collecting about $7 from the average utility bill. It’s really NOT a "new" tax but, rather a replacement of a fee residents have paid since the 60's at least.
It’s hard for me to understand how someone who regularly flies to Paris can begrudge Santa Cruz this operating money.
(See CDG - PARIS CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT, comments of P Marcelin-Sampson)
There are flaws in this and just about every revenue California cities have. That’s because types of City revenues are very limitted and strictly dictated by the State. I am the first to say we need Statewide tax reform especially for funding our cities. I'd love to see that happen. But, right now, we need to maintain our City at LEAST at its current levels of operation. To do that, we need to pass Measure X.
I urge all Santa Cruz voters to vote YES on measure X!

Ed Porter
eporter95 (at)

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Yes what you say is true, however given the world we live in where our local money is used to pay off national and federal debts, we have to sometimes tax ourselves locally so we can have the essential services.

As to hitting the poor, the poor are the most benefited by City parks, the swimming pool, the Beach Flats center, and libraries, these are free or low cost, not much else is these days.

If you want to win your argument on Measure X think first of the consequences. The war in Iraq will not stop, the State will not close prisons, however local parks will close and again the poor will lose. I hate to say it but leave your ivory tower and realize your arguments do not help the poor, the rich have swimming pools the poor do not.

Council Member Porter misses the point

Mr. Porter ignores a lot of the questions raised in my article.

1. Why has City Council been concentrating more and more money in the hands of fewer and fewer employees? Think: full retirement at 50 for police while cutting hours at Louden Nelson.

2. Why would City Council push a highly regressive utility tax instead of an equivalent sales tax? The 50% voter approval requirement applies either way, so it's not as if a sales tax would be harder to pass.

3. Why does City Council have a backward water pricing scheme that penalizes people who use less water?

4. Why did Council ignore the law (Proposition 218 -- like it or not) for a decade?

5. Why should a publicly-owned utility with no profit motive feel the need to overcharge on utility services?

6. What does the City plan to do with the extra tax money it will earn as a side-effect of the massive (124%) increase in water rates from 2004 through 2009?

As for Mr. Porter's personal attack regarding my travel habits, I suppose it is a crime that I have family members in France and Germany and that I visit them occasionally. Mr. Porter should note that the airport review I filed speaks of "over 20 years" travel experience, not of "regular" travel experience. I believe that Mr. Porter did a Google search on my name this afternoon, in hopes of digging up dirt. I found likely evidence of this in the access log for my Web server. If that's what Mr. Porter did, it was very sloppy, as Internet addresses can be traced.

In other news, I am happy to report that the NO on X Web site is mostly complete! Please check it out at

Re: the comment about funding for the war on Iraq, that's a federal expense, and the federal government generally does not chip in to municipal operating budgets. Interesting question what the country would be like without war and weapons, but it doesn't help us in the here-and-now.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people


Seems like you have not heard that the Federal Government does in fact clip into the local level funding. First they mandate programs, and then cut the funding, so you have to cut other programs to cover those costs. I call that a clip.

Just say you do not like the current local tax structure and I would agree, however I did not vote for the last tax revolution Prop 13 what do you have in mind and how will you get it passed when you need a two thirds vote at the state level.

Santa Cruz can't afford to flush more money down the toilet

In an obscure vote-by-mail election set for the dead of summer, Santa Cruz City Council is asking you to approve Measure X. A second utility tax won't solve the budget crisis; it will just encourage politicians to waste more money. If you want sustainable City government, vote NO on X this August.

Federal role in the cities

Hi, Reasonable Person. The federal government funds some municipal capital expenses, but generally does not fund municipal government operating expenses (there are exceptions). The fundamental problem in Santa Cruz is with the operating budget. Again, it would great if the federal government wasn't spending money on weapons and war, but even so, the savings would be used for expenses other than municipal operations. You might get federal money for schools, but not for general municipal government operation, the subject of Measure X. Thanks for your respectful and insightful participation, by the way. :-)

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

I disagree w/ the letter urging folks to not support measure X. While the author makes some good points about the regressive nature of the water billing system this is a seperate issue from converting the franchise fee to a utility tax. I suspect the author simply doesn't like taxes. The City budget is in a precarious position for a wide number of reasons but the fact remains that if revenue is cut the social programs that help the least fortunate in our City will the targets of the budget cuts, not pensions, which are owed under labor contracts that must be paid at least untill changed. There may be other expenditures as well that folks don't like but by not passing Measure X the most needy will be the ones to suffer.



If Ed Porter didn't write the comment, why won't he talk to the original article's author?

If the comment did not originate from Ed Porter, why hasn't Mr. Porter seen fit to talk to me? I immediately wrote him at the indicated e-mail address, which, incidentally, shows up on numerous Web pages. He has not replied. Until Mr. Porter contacts me, as the author, I must assume that he wrote the comment.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Don't like it leave. The ever expanding UC campus is taxing the whole area. And then the students act like they are all politicaly motivated while supporting the largest WMD program in the world. The richest student body in the state.

Santa Cruz is dependent on rain for their water supply. It should be expensive to encourage less frivolous use, and hopefully less developement.

The ever expanding UC system has pushed out far more "poor" people than raising the water rates.

Collecting, impounding, purifying, and distibuting water is not a free process. I'm state certified as a grade II water treatment operator, so I know.

Maybe they need the money to pay for the law suit from the UC system about water issues. You want to fight a scourge to Santa Cruz fight the ever expanding west side cancer.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

H2O Guy's comment is a good example of how someone can (I think sincerely in this case) be confused about the facts.

H2O Guy tells us that providing water "is not a free process". Measure X does not fund water. Measure X taxes water to fund general City programs. That's the whole problem.

H2O Guy tell us that water "should be expensive to encourage less frivolous use". That's exactly right. There should be a graduated pricing scheme, so that people who consume more water will pay higher prices and have an incentive to conserve. The City claims to have such an arrangement, but the true pricing scheme is just the opposite: those who use the least water pay the highest price per gallon. To put it a different way, you have an incentive to use at least 225 gallons a day. Below that, the less you use, the higher the price. 225 gallons a day is a lot of water for a sensible 1- to 4- person household.

H2O Guy tells us that UCSC has "pushed out" people. On the contrary. Having lost major employers like Texas Instruments, Lipton, and Salz Tannery, the City of Santa Cruz has no economy left. The Boardwalk (!) is our largest private employer. Without UCSC, there would be even fewer jobs, and the local economy would be even smaller. People are pushed out due to supply and demand. Santa Cruz is an attractive place to live, which drives up demand, which drives up prices. We are reaching the breaking point, though, because there is insufficient economic activity to support the high prices.

Finally, H20 Guy says, "Don't like it leave." The whole point of an election is to let citizens make choices. Presumably, it's okay for citizens not to accept the officially-recommended choice.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

"the students act like they are all politicaly motivated while supporting the largest WMD program in the world. The richest student body in the state."

please don't generalize about students. UCSC students have shown their anger about UC's management of Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos Labs - which design WMDs. See this link on their action:

furthermore, if you check the stats, we aren't THE richest student body in the state - we're actually the 2nd richest UC. The richest study body probably resides at a private school like Stanford.

Yeah, there are many rich students, but it is an insult to the majority of UCSC students that are on financial aid, and the many that are struggling to work their way through school.

You can't generalize by saying the problem with UCSC in Santa Cruz is a problem with UCSC Students. We aren't the ones that are pushing to expand UCSC. The real problem is the UCSC/UC administration and the Regents. Both students and communities have been fighting them independently for years. We would be much more successful if we worked together.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Thanks Paul for informing more on the issue. Still my point about needing money for the law suit filed by the UC over water issues is valid.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Wow Josh are you deluded. I appreciate you bravado for wanting a good education. But get a clue

Acting as if you are an innocent bystander to the UC system while supporting it is ridiculous.

The more students that support it the bigger it gets. The more money that the UC system makes from WMD programs and "greed" the bigger it gets and the better able it is to have the "excellent" education that you claim.

Maybe you should suggest joining the KKK while expressing your displeasure at racism. There is no hypocracy there. Just like, doing what I can from the inside or!?

"we're actually the 2nd richest UC" SPARE ME....

You are supporting the worlds largest WMD program by choosing to go to a UC school.

"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war"

I don't have a problem I can quit anytime I want.

By adding 5000 more students as the UC plans, that is going to tax(in a different way) the whole water system of Santa Cruz. That, with the inevetable drought that will come will be a real problem as the population of Santa Cruz, as well as everywhere else, continues to increase. Carrying capacity is a term you should get to know.

Read the book Cadillac Dessert, by Mark Reisner

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

Reasonable guy you make some good points.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

UC students are independent of the WMDs developed at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos financially and morally. Why?

1) We have no decision making power regarding the handeling of the labs. It is all determined by the UC Regents, corporate figureheads appointed by the governor. Yet we still fight to make our voice heard in opposition to their management.

2) Financially, UC students aren't paying for the labs - the labs are actually a money maker for the UC, as they receive $$ from the U.S. gov for management. Any money they make is recirculated into research at those labs. So we students don't give or receive a dime. Thus, our tuition is not paying for them and we aren't supporting them.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

sorry to continue off the subject, but i see that this discussion is taking place both in this subject and another one (the uc regents meeting protest feature). there's a post by mara in that one:

" Santa Cruz Native,

I understand your frustration that UCSC students protest the University of California while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of its education and privilege. You call us hypocrites and suggest we should either get out of the UC system or shut the hell up. But the logical extension of your argument is laughable.

Following your logic, all U.S. citizens who protest the Iraq War while simultaneously benefiting from the protections of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy are raging hypocrites. Maybe we should quit this war protesting all together? Your logic also suggests that any critical voice originating from the inside the system is hypocritical and…what? Should be silenced? I think I’ve heard that argument before and I think its usually phrased “love it or leave it.? Come on.

Your proposed criteria for college choice is cute and noble, but in reality most student’s decision to attend a UC is the result of family pressures and economic considerations…not ideological orientations or clever arguments crafted on indymedia message boards. So let’s say you enter UCSC as a bright-eyed 18 year old and soon discover that the Regents do some things you don’t agree with. We should drop out immediately right? Well, go for it man. Or maybe we should ignore the problems and go about our college lives without disrupting things? Most do. But frankly, some of us aren’t satisfied with those two options and feel compelled to voice our opposition, spread awareness, and work to change things from the inside. Hypocrites? Come on, life does not hand us tidy packages of black/white good/bad ideological consistencies."

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people


My response to a nice attempt to justify

As long as i'm being "cute" I thought I would respond. I've heard plenty of criticism come out of the mouths of many a UC student, criticising one thing or another, so i think a little in return is fair play at the very least.

The difference of choosing a school and living in the U.S. is most people are not born into a school.

Again I've heard plenty of criticism from UC persons condemning those who support Bush.

UC students like to scream loudly about the things they don't care for, or people they don't agree with. I've been witness to many self reightous finger pointing aimed at others from UC students. So now a finger is pointing back.

"Economic Considerations?" Like I wan't to spend a lot of money to go to school so I will choose a UC? A CSU being the more affordable schools.

Drop out or sell out is that the question? Well when I've heard so much criticism about peoples choices from UC students it certainly begs the question.

"Following your logic, all U.S. citizens who protest the Iraq War while simultaneously benefiting from the protections of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy are raging hypocrites."

Did they choose to vote for Bush or some one else?
The difference here being choice.

Also interesting to note, is your endorsement of bush's policies. Do you really feel that US citizens are safer under Bush?

Who's logic is laughable? Following the logic I've seen here. It wouldn't be hypocritcal to CHOOSE an SUV, while opposing drilling in ANWAR. Or CHOOSING to join the KKK while being opposed to racism.Or, for that matter, vote for Bush,while opposing the war. While I would still support their choice to protest the war, I would find it hypocritical.

Gee you UC students seem awfully critical of others choices, and very defensive when you come under criticism yourself.

If I had not seen such criticism spouted by many a UC student I doubt that I would have been motivated to be so critical in my analysis.

Your cake and eat it too. People in glass houses. Living in an Ivory tower, and the like.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

>" UC students are independent of the WMDs
>developed at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos >financially and morally. Why?

That's right, everyone else is evil but a UCSC student is beyond criticism. Josh, your attempt at justification really just reveals the depth of your denile of your complicity.

>1) We have no decision making power regarding the >handeling of the labs. It is all determined by >the UC Regents, corporate figureheads appointed >by the governor. Yet we still fight to make our >voice heard in opposition to their management.

You have the power to decide not to support the UC System. Don't pull that helpless act. Even though I know the power of the victim routine these days.

>2) Financially, UC students aren't paying for the >labs - the labs are actually a money maker for >the UC, as they receive $$ from the U.S. gov for >management. Any money they make is recirculated >into research at those labs. So we students don't >give or receive a dime. Thus, our tuition is not >paying for them and we aren't supporting them."

Well you seem to be grasping at some logic here. Yes the labs make money, that wether you like it or not, helps support the UC system that provides the "excellent education" you seem to be touting so strongly.

You will never solve a single problem until you realize your place in it.

You clearly illustrate my distaste for the propaganda the UC system produces. They Churn out nuclear weapons while at the same time churning out self reightous, finger pointing, PC robots as a smoke screen for their true agenda.

Measure X Free Radio Debate on Sunday July 3 10 AM

Mayor Mike Rotkin will be debating activist Paul Marcelin-Sampson on Free Radio Santa Cruz Sunday July 3 10 AM - 11:30 AM. Call-in at 831-427-3772 or join the chat room at . I'll be moderating.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

There was just an article in the Sentinel about the plans to fund a desalinization project when the inevitable drought returns. It's an expensive project. Maybe this has something to do with that.

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

For the life of me i can't figure out why Mr. Marclin Sampson would want to add his voice to the right wing anti tax people who are out to destroy government services. Unfortunately, the city doesn't get to decide what kind of taxes it can and cannot pass. If it were up to us, we would do an income tax, but that is not allowed for cities in California. So when the right-wing, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association wins a suit that forces the city to get a vote from the people on converting a former fee (been around since the 1960s) to a tax, we either do that or lose about $3.9 million dollars out of the city budget. Goodbye Louden Nelson Center. Goodbye swimming pool. goodbye teen center. goodbye about half of the parks and recreation staff who maintain our parks and run the free recreation programs that serve low-income kids. Mr. Marcelin-Sampsin would rather we pass a sales tax? great, but too bad we don't have the authority to do that without special state legislation. enough right-wing ideology! get real about the services the people in this town want and need to fund if they want them. Of course we would rather take the money that the feds waste on war, etc. etc. etc., but we do not have that power right now. Mr. Marcelin-Sampson can apparently afford to do without city programs, but the working people in this town cannot. We need a yes vote on Measure X or kiss city services goodbye. that is for real!

Choice of taxes - regressive vs progressive

I know well how city finance works in California. Though we don't have legal authority to impose a city income tax (compare East Cast cities like Philadelphia), we can do a sales tax instead of a utility tax. As a general-purpose tax, either one needs the same 50% vote. A sales tax is much less regressive than a utility tax. By its nature, a utility tax affects essential services. You have to pay, no matter what you can afford. A sales tax at least exempts services (including essential ones like water), food, and prescription drugs.

And the whole reason I started this campaign is to protect city services. The city has for several years followed a policy of laying off employees so it can afford to give raises, better pensions, and more workers comp to the remaining employees. We have fewer workers today but they are earning more money. It's layoffs for raises!

Each job that we cut equals a reduction in service. Only by managing the growth in personnel spending can we save city services. It's fair to pay employees a cost-of-living increase, tied to the Consumer Price Index. That way they don't lose ground, and we don't have to lay people off.

At the current growth rate (almost 350% of inflation), we could pass a Measure X tax every year and still have a deficit and layoffs.

Voting NO on X will encourage politicians like Mike Rotkin (I doubt he actually wrote that comment, but perhaps he did) to control spending. That change will prevent layoffs and save city services.

mike rotkin comments on sc-imc?

"like Mike Rotkin (I doubt he actually wrote that comment, but perhaps he did)"

looks to me like mike rotkin found his way over to santa cruz indymedia.

mike rotkin comments on this article as well:

No Party Ordinance Approved!

Re: No Party Ordinance Approved!
01 Jul 2005
by mike rotkin

Re: No on X - Santa Cruz utility tax hits poor people

I did. What good did it do me?????


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