There are two propositions that contribute to El Cajon having the highest sales tax in the surrounding cities. Proposition O was a .50% increase in the city sales tax that was approved by the voters in 2004 for a term of 10 years. Proposition J  was also a .50% increase in sales tax that was approved by the voters in 2008 but this one has a term of 20 years. Since both propositions were passed by the voters, blame should not be put on the incumbents for the increase but the overall management of these funds, particularly Prop J, can be tied to the city
leaders.
  First off I believe Prop O did serve its purpose and was a worthwhile investment. The revenues raised from the sales tax were to be used to fund the replacement of police and fire facilities with combined earthquake-safe facilities including the latest public safety technology and an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate disaster response, relocating or upgrading fire stations, and replacing animal control facilities. These goals were accomplished or are being accomplished and the tax will expire in November of 2014 (actually coming off the books in the spring of 2015). When this proposition expires it should allow El Cajon to be back at the sales tax level of the surrounding cities.
  Now Prop J, on the other hand, is the poster child for all things I despise about tax increases. First off, prop J passed by less than 1%. Secondly, 20 years is too long of duration to be on the books. In the current economic climate you would never see this tax passed again. Thirdly, the wording on this proposition states-The revenues raised from the sales tax are not specified for a particular purpose, but will be available to fund ongoing and essential governmental services, including police and fire operations, recreational services, parks and building maintenance services, and other, general, city services. Thus, the city leaders can use it whichever way they like with the phrase “essential government services”. If this tax was managed correctly along with the city budget it should have been a benefit to the city. You would not see city employees go through years without a pay increase, you would not see a reason to facilitate furlough days, you would not see the city have to defer essential maintenance, etc… alas this is not the case.
  If you research the budget prior to prop J (2007-2008) you will find the city revenue was $48,859,573 but now (2012-2013) the city revenue is $50,088,402 which includes $7,400,000 of the added prop J money thus without that added prop J fund the city revenues would have decreased to $42,688,042 that is a reduction of $6,171,531 in city revenues without Prop J. It is hard to tell how much prop J has affected the overall revenue stream through consumers going to other cities to shop but one thing is certain it has not been the cure all for the city’s needs. Instead of the city leaders finding ways to increase the revenue stream to pay for the essential needs of the city, they use the prop J money as a crutch and they still require too many cuts across the board. Government has never been efficient in managing additional money. You may hear the incumbents say they would like to end this tax early but based on performance to date, how is that possible? It is up to the city leaders to find a way to increase the city revenue stream but for the last four years that has not been accomplished. It is up to you and me to expect better results from the money we already pay into the city.

Some of this information was also mentioned in a previous blog but I thought it was so important to the decision making process for the voters that it bore repeating. In the next blog I will share my ideas on ways I believe we can increase city revenues and the changes that should be made to the city’s general plan.

 Remember In November make the clear choice for
“A Better El Cajon”
Elect Duane Swainston to City Council.

 


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