Letter: Spending on Tourists, Employee Pensions Need Addressing

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Now that the City Council elections are over, and the angst has died down, I would like to suggest two issues to be addressed.

As J.J. Gasparotti has pointed out, tourists are a drain on the city budget. Each one costs you, the taxpayer, about $7.50 to provide police, fire, lifeguards, trash and beach maintenance. So, the issue is, how does the city mine tourists to cover the city’s expenses? Laguna gets six million tourists a year and the number is going to continue to increase as areas around Laguna are built up. Do we really need free trolley service to attract even more tourists? Parking is not the issue, tourist costs are.

The second topic that is “the elephant in the room” is the growth, ongoing expense and pension expense of public employees at city hall and public safety police, firefighters and lifeguards. Seems as though the solution is to always add more “staff” or public safety employees. Pension expenses are taking a growing share of the budget. At some point, the city will have to reduce “active employment” as more money will go to retirees. Then, of course, the city will want to increase taxes to cover the shortfall.

So, the big issues are not parking or one-way streets or spending money on roundabouts or undergrounding. Long-term growth of city expenses to accommodate tourists and increasing public employee pension costs will be the issues in the future.

George Orff, Laguna Beach


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