N.C. Journal Does Local Tax Measures
An informative article in this week's North Coast Journal lays out the facts regarding all the local tax increases we'll have on the ballot this November. They do a good job of showing why the cities and counties are short of funds. For example:
"As an example, Fortuna has seen general fund revenues increase 31 percent over the past decade while expenses have increased 60 percent. "Since 2003, costs for [Pacific Gas & Electric] increased by 58 percent, health insurance increased by 98 percent, vehicle fuel prices increased by 142 percent and [California Public Employee Retirement System] increased by over 640 percent," City Manager Regan Candelario wrote in the city's 2013-2014 budget."
"It's that last line item that's clamping down on local budgets throughout the state, says Michael Shires, an associate professor at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy who has written extensively about California's tax structures. "The driving factor in all this is really pension obligations," Shires says. "We have a bunch of commitments to spend money in ways we cannot afford."
Pension obligations? Where have we heard that before?
While I am sympathetic to the need for additional revenue, I've mentioned before I'll likely be voting against any proposals on my ballot.
First of all, raising the revenue to cover the pension obligations does nothing to deal with the core problem of unsustainable pensions. We might well have to raise taxes again before long if CalPers insists on increased contributions.
Second, while these seem like a large number of tax increases for the local area, they're likely not all we'll be facing. We're facing potential tax increases on the state and federal level in the near future. I've already pointed out the state's planned gas tax increase of between 14 to 79 cents a gallon. That's in addition to however high the price of gas goes on its own.
Third, other costs of living have gone up considerably just over the last few years. Eurekans have seen something like a 2/3 increase in water and sewer bills- mine having gone from $35ish a month to $55ish. Gas and electricity has gone up substantially. This time of year our monthly bill used to be around $25. I received this month's this morning at $38. That's almost a 50% increase from 2 or 3 years ago. Thanks to those of you who supported AB32, it might well go even higher.
The list goes on and I'm scared. No, I'm not exaggerating. Things do not look good, especially in this state and I'm worried about being able to make our basic living costs. I'm not going to exacerbate my situation by voting for what will likely be any number of new expenses.