Survey’s Structure Raises Questions

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I received a survey by email from the city of Laguna Beach. The intention of this survey was to obtain feedback from local citizens about projects that could be included as part of the city budget. The question, after reading this list of proposed projects, was how many were actually needed? Many of the projects seemed worthwhile, but paying for them with our current budget or other means was not discussed.

At no time in this survey was it mentioned as to whether property owners would be willing to pay for any of these projects with an increase in property taxes or building fees instead of an increase in hotel taxes.

The July 1, 2016, edition of the Indy quoted Councilperson Iseman saying, “I really believe we need to have additional money.”

I found it difficult to agree how much importance could be placed on any of these projects until the costs were discussed. It felt to me like the survey was leading me into a lot of agreement and yet not talking about how these projects were going to be paid for. With water rates, sewer rates, property taxes, and even electricity rates all increasing it can be overwhelming. This survey seem to be opening the door for some sort of increase in fees and taxation that would increase the burden on property owners. For a small city with 23,000 people, the current city government budget seems astronomical in proportion to cities with similar-sized populations.

Just how much of Laguna’s budget is spent on servicing our tourist business and what are the true benefits to property owners? With $445,000 to plan the village entrance, $450,000 for an ACT V walking path to the art college, $100,000 to rebuild the Agate Street Beach steps, $2 million grants for the museum and playhouse, and now a proposed list of costly projects, it truly looks to me that our city government simply has way too much of our money to spend. Maybe it’s a time to start giving it back to the taxpayers instead of looking for more costly and unnecessary projects.

This survey puzzled me and its intentions could be questionable to the point where it can be asked is it a truly valid survey? Measures on ballots for voters often spells disaster for those who will ultimately be picking up the tab.

Jim Gothard, Laguna Beach


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