Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Commentary By Donna Westfall – January 8, 2022

PETITION APPROVED: City attorney, Martha Rice, approved the petition for signature on Tuesday, January 4th. Only 49 signatures are required to get the repeal of the 1% City sales tax on the June 2022 ballot. However that means we have to collect at least 20% more because you never know who’s signature will not be approved by the city as valid; so at least 59 or more will be collected from registered voters.

Once the signatures are turned into the City, they have 30 days in which to verify that 49 signatures are indeed of registered city voters. Once verified, it goes on the schedule to be on the June 2022 ballot.

In the past, I usually would sit in that meeting and watch and complain if there were any discrepancies. and fight for each signature they wanted to disregard. Sometimes signatures don’t match and they will kick them out. Or addresses don’t match and again they are kicked out. People move and then forget to change their voter reigstration.

Here are the components to the City petition:

FIRST PART: Title and ballot summary by city attorney:

INITIATIVE TO REPEAL MEASURE S LOCAL TAX

On November 3, 2020, City voters approved Measure S, a local tax measure that imposes a 1.0% transactions and use tax within the City limits. A “transactions and use tax” is commonly referred to as a “sales tax”. A 1.0% sales tax is equal to one cent for every dollar of a taxable retail purchase.  The tax does not apply to most food purchases such as groceries or prescription medications. The City estimated that this local sales tax would generate approximately $1.3 million per year. The tax revenues generated by the local sales tax are deposited into the City’s General Fund. The General Fund supports a variety of general municipal services, including, but not limited to the following essential City services: emergency rescue services such as fire protection and medical aid provided by the Crescent City Fire Department and public safety/emergency response provided by the Crescent City Police Department; maintenance and repair of City streets and sidewalks; and the maintenance and operation of Fred Endert Municipal Swimming Pool.

The Measure S ordinance requires the City Council to appoint an oversight committee to review and publicly report on the expenditure of Measure S revenues. The oversight committee is made up of two non-voting City staff persons and five City residents, who each serve two-year terms. In addition, the Measure S ordinance requires an independent audit of local tax revenues and expenditures to be conducted each year in conjunction with the City’s annual financial audit. The City Council has also tasked the oversight committee with advising on the expenditure of Measure S revenues as part of the City’s annual budget process. All meetings of the Measure S Oversight Committee are open to the public.

The Measure S Committee recommended and the City Council approved the expenditure of Measure S revenues for the following purposes in Fiscal Year 2021-2022:  $230,940 to the Fire Department for equipment, training, and staffing; $279,524 to the Police Department for equipment, staffing, and building design; $325,000 for pool operations and equipment; and $465,000 for street repair projects including streets, sidewalks, and street lights.

If approved by the voters, this initiative would repeal the 1.0% local sales tax within the city limits. Thus, the City would receive approximately $1.3 million less each year to fund general City municipal services and functions including essential services such as fire and police emergency services, the municipal pool, and street maintenance and repair.

SECOND PART: Reasons to repeal

Voters of Crescent City approved Measure S.  This measure was placed on the November 3, 2020 ballot by the City Council, establishing a 1% sales tax.

  1.  We have learned from the $25 million school bond that Citizen Oversight Committees don’t work to protect the tax payer’s money.  Del Norte Unified School District is currently under investigation by an outside organization and current findings are proving the committee has not operated in the INDEPENDENT and LEGAL capacity in protecting the taxpayer, since its inception 12 years ago. With three past government employees on the City’s 1% Sales Tax Oversight Committee, we believe they are there to rubber stamp, not protect our tax dollars or see that they are spent wisely.
  2. Employees of the City have not voluntarily reduced their salaries or benefits during the Pandemic period while many others that are not government employees have lost their businesses, their homes and are struggling.
  3. We have high unemployment, high poverty, high taxes, high gas prices, high food prices and we’re being taxed to death.  Cost of living is too high.  Taxed when we earn it, taxed when we spend it and too little to show for it.
  4. The potholes in our road aren’t fixed or maintained nearly enough.  Our swimming pool used to have a $1/4 million deficit and now it’s $1/2 million on a relatively new pool with too few users.  Our Police Department is currently fully staffed.  Detective positions can be trained from existing employees instead of hiring new.

Plus, three of the five members of the City’s Citizens Oversight Committee are former government employees.

If you want to see the repeal of taxes go on the June 2022 ballot, go by today between 1pm and 4:30 pm, petitions will be available at 937 J St, on the sidewalk. This location is next to the Liquor Store on 9th ad J. I’ll be there.

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