Laguna Beach Taxpayers’ Association does not support an increase in the transient occupancy tax.
The primary reason, despite its misleading name (Vital Services Measure) and language, which appears to direct funding for “fire, police protection and emergency response,” it in fact directs the revenues from this tax increase to instead go to the general fund. It gives the city a blank check to spend the money raised by the increase in taxes in any way the city chooses, without voter input or approval.
There is no demonstrated need for an increase in revenues in the city at this time. The city has reserves of $11 million, and is operating at a surplus with revenues expected to increase year after year over the next several fiscal years. Property taxes alone are expected to increase by 6.75%. The city does not need the money.
We also do not support this measure because the revenues raised by the increase in taxes are not specifically directed to a particular need. The city placed this general fund initiative on the ballot knowing that only a simple voter approval of 51% would be necessary for approval, as opposed to the two-thirds voter approval threshold required for specific needs. An increase in taxes should only be approved when there is an urgent and demonstrated essential need for additional monies to provide essential city services, and none has been shown. Further, the city has already signaled it’s intent to use this increase in taxes to support a multi-million dollar revenue bond measure at taxpayer expense so that it can spend even more of your money, without further voter approval.
How much is enough? Vote no on this increase in taxes.
Jennifer Zeiter, Laguna Beach
The author is president of Laguna Beach Taxpayers’ Association.