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WatchSonoma
WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa’s tax measure is a ___________ idea (fill in the blank)

Story on ballot arguments originally published Aug. 20 and updated with rebuttals on Aug. 30

Should Santa Rosa voters pass a quarter-cent sales tax to help bail the city out of its budget mess?

Our City Hall reporter, Kevin McCallum, just got a copy of the rebuttals to the official arguments for and against the sales tax measure on the Nov. 2 ballot. As you might imagine, they have starkly different views on the subject.

The argument in favor of Measure P, co-authored by Mayor Susan Gorin and Councilwoman Jane Bender, stresses the city’s dire financial crisis and the severe service cuts on the horizon.

Public safety, parks, pools and senior centers are all mentioned as likely to endure additional cuts without the 8-year-long cash infusion from the proposed tax.

“By voting for a temporary quarter cent sales tax, the City of Santa Rosa can help to prevent these draconian cuts and restore badly needed services,” the ballot argument reads.

The Sonoma County Taxpayers Association takes a very different view, focusing instead on the peril posed by rising pension costs.

The city should try to live within its current budget, according to the argument by SCTA Executive Director Fred Levin. If it can’t, reducing the cost of pensions for retired workers should be its highest priority.

“Until Santa Rosa resolves the looming issue of retiree pension costs they have not earned the right to ask taxpayers for an increase in sales tax rate,” the group argues.

Check out the full arguments below. Which one makes the most sense to you? And which one do you think will triumph on Election Day?

— Ted Appel
Watch Sonoma County

The argument for Measure P

The City of Santa Rosa faces its most serious fiscal crisis due to the severe recession that has devastated our state and national economies.

Since 2007/08, the City’s general fund budget has been slashed by $21.9 million, or 16.8%. 174 positions, or 20% of the City’s employees, have been eliminated, including 14 police officer and 9 firefighter positions. Park maintenance staff has been reduced 70% and street maintenance staff by 25%.

The reduction in City services has been dramatic. One fire station is closed each day. One third of the City’s streetlights have been turned off. Our parks are turning brown, and potholes go unfilled. Gang prevention has been reduced, recreation programs decreased, homeless services cut back.

But unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

City budget woes are expected to worsen by millions more, and Sacramento is poised to take even more money from local governments.

The grim reality is that more cuts will be made to the most basic of City services — including brownouts of up to 3 more fire stations and the elimination of up to 18 more police officers. Some parks will be closed, and park user fees will be implemented. On the chopping block may be the Ridgway and Finley Swim Centers, the Senior Center and our Homeless Center.

By voting for a temporary 1/4% cent sales tax, the City of Santa Rosa can help to prevent these draconian cuts and restore badly needed services.

For an additional tax of just 25 cents on every $100 we spend in Santa Rosa for the next eight years, Measure P will save our City’s most vital services. The funds will only be used for the most important general fund services, and the politicians in Sacramento can’t take it away.

Please vote Yes on Measure P.

The argument against Measure P

Until Santa Rosa resolves the looming issue of retiree pension costs they have not earned the right to ask taxpayers for an increase in sales tax rate.

The City has made cuts in the budget to respond to the pressures that have resulted from our current economic recession. We applaud them for doing that without asking the tax payers for more money at a time when most taxpayers are also suffering from financial pressures.

Ideally we would hope that the City would find a way to live within its present budget without pulling more from taxpayers’ pockets to fill City coffers. In any event, before asking for a tax increase the City must seriously address and make substantial progress toward resolving the biggest problem on the agenda, the exploding cost of funding excessive promises to retired employees. Failure to address this as the highest priority is equivalent to nibbling around the edges of the problem, but never getting to the real issue.

Taxpayers must force the City to address the major problem of inflated pension costs by keeping the pressure on. The greatest fear is that if a tax increase passes, the City will continue to push the pension cost issue off into the future, only making it worse.

To be sure there are many reasons to oppose the current sales tax increase. Including the fact in 2004 voters passed Measure 0, a sales tax increase that was supposed to solve their public safety problems. Now the City is asking for another quarter cent primarily for public safety.

The City simply has not made the case for increasing the sales tax. We recommend you vote no on Measure P.

Measure P supporters’ rebuttal

Contrary to the opponents’ argument, the City Council is seriously and aggressively addressing the costs of employee compensation and benefits.

The City has already realized more than $1,401,000 in savings from employee concessions during fiscal years 2009 and 2010. As part of the current fiscal year, additional employee concessions of approximately $2,512,000 are being negotiated with the various labor groups and management. These concessions will result in a three-year savings to the City of more than $3,913,000, of which $2,771,000 applies to the General Fund.

In addition, the City Council is actively pursuing reduced retirement pension benefits by providing new non-public safety employees a lower pension benefit (establishing a “two tier system”). State law forbids the reduction of retirement benefits for its current employees and retirees.

Once fully implemented, the two-tier system will reduce the City’s future non-public safety employee pension costs, but the savings will not be fully realized for several years — a prime reason why a short-term sales tax is necessary.

Without additional revenue for a limited time, additional budget reductions will have to be initiated. The next round of budget cuts will reduce and/or eliminate vital basic services provided by the City of Santa Rosa.

The question is: “Is it important to you to maintain core services? If so, is it worth 25 cents on every $100 you spend until the economy improves and pension reduction plans take effect?” We believe it is.

Vote Yes on Measure P.

Measure P opponents’ rebuttal

Santa Rosa’s supporters of Measure P just don’t get it. This falls election is all about the economy. It is about the rising pension costs that is a major factor in layoffs, service cuts, tax and fee increases. Unless this problem is addressed, the City will be seeking additional taxes to pay for employee benefits.

The proponents of this tax increase are using scare tactics to convince you to vote for more taxes and more government spending. They use phrases such as “the worst is yet to come”, “the grim reality is that more cuts will be made to most basic City services”.

All of us have been affected by this recession, but we don’t go to our bosses and say we demand more money. We are fortunate to have our jobs. The taxpayers have tighten their belts and government should do the same.

The City is saying this a temporary tax. When was the last time government really instituted a temporary tax?

The City has turned away retail development that would have brought much needed jobs and sales tax revenue to help with the City’s deficit. Instead, they want the taxpayer to bail them out once again.

The City indicates the increased sales tax money will be used primarily for public safety, but not long ago the voters approved Measure O a sales tax increase to fund pubic safety.

When is enough, enough. Vote no on Measure P and force the City to live within its means.





56 Responses to “Santa Rosa’s tax measure is a ___________ idea (fill in the blank)”

  1. Meg says:

    The Tax Measure is a bad idea. Cotati and Rohnert Park already passed these tax measures, and accordingly, I and others have curbed our taxable spending. Every increase hurts those of us on low and fixed incomes. Sales taxes are regressive and do not hurt the rich or well off who can afford a higher percentage, but instead they hurt the lower income citizenry who are scraping by.

    Why is the city laying off workers and turning around to pay for a new senior citizen center? Why are cities holding on to parks and recs and instead laying off teachers, police, and firefighters? Take care of the core services first, then after that, you can play with reserve funds.

  2. Jacob,

    “but that we try to work on this big conundrum above the survival emotion”

    First, you take care of the survival issues.

    “I think a near-term tax is something that might help us accomplish this, and with a little pain, retain the services like parks, pools, senior centers, etc.”

    Nobody trusts the government to treat taxpayer provided resources with a respect devoid of ideology and avarice. The government has left responsible business management in the overall interest of all of the people behind, in favor of ideological forays left and right. The end result is that the taxpayer says, “No more! Not one more dime!”. Strip out the ideology, inject responsibility, and the taxpayer will once again listen to reasonable arguments.

    “But we have to keep in mind that there are distinctly different frying pans for each taxed purpose.”

    You’re asking taxpayers who are already tapped out on storage and processor cycles to figure all this out? Especially when the local politicians are just as ideological as the state and federal politicians? It all just runs together.

    “I know, first hand, how EXTREMELY lean Santa Rosa’s government is.”

    In today’s environment of excess ideology and high un-deremployment, there is precious little tolerance for even the appearance of excess. The Novato city council was excoriated for the restoration of the historic townhall, even though those funds were a grant that could NOT have been used for anything else. The citizens basically said, “We don’t care, it stinks and someone is going to pay.”

    “I’d like the biggest slice of my tax dollar (or nine point five) to stay right here in Sonoma County & Santa Rosa.”

    Welcome to the North Coast Republic, good luck on that. Wait ’till you have to fund your own air force and navy to protect the coast from the Mendoboldt Republic.

    “As far as families surviving by paying off credit cards and saving? I don’t know what world you live in, but the reality I see is much, much different.”

    I don’t know what world you live in, but the statistics are nationwide and unmistakable. There are more people going through hard times right now than normal, but throughout history there have always been folks who weren’t doing as well as others. That has generally been an impetus to do something different. Nationwide, folks are paying off their credit cards (balances down 10% over the past couple years) and saving more than in decades (6% savings rate nationwide last year).

    “if the funds are low, that means no organic vegetables this payperiod”

    Hmmmm.

    “revisit that Federal Frying Pan, and insist that we STOP hemorrhaging Santa Rosa’s potential tax dollar into Afghanistan.”

    You don’t approve, I recommend you put together an effort to change the national policy. Until that happens, we will pay federal taxes and those taxes will be spent where the Congress decides they are to be spent (which will continue mean that our tax dollars leave the state to fund other states and other priorities).

    Regards,
    Chuck

  3. Dan Delgado says:

    Jacob,

    It’s a process and we’re stuck with it? Really? Talk about hooey. To think like that is to give up. Why do you bother getting up in the morning? Nor is it a matter of blame, though there is no doubt plenty of that to go around. The idea is to shine so much light on these special funds that the otherwise complacent public can’t help but see them and ask why. Why do my kids have to take their own toilet paper to school while a $35,000 bicycle work of art goes up on Santa Rosa Ave? The vast majority of the voting public is unaware that most of our tax dollars are secreted away in special purpose funds. They hear elected officials scream about closing fire houses and schools and parks and senior centers and pools and etc. and etc. They accept without question the argument that the only way to save these vital core functions is to bow down before the demands for new taxes or bond issues. The idea here is to wake these voters up to the fact that the money is already there, but has been siphoned off and spent for bicycle boulevards and public art and $40 million dollar garages. The idea is to educate these voters that the decisions made to fund these special purpose funds has left depleted the general fund so don’t be surprised that your fire houses are browning out and your parks are, well, browning. Only when the greater public wakes up to this fact and starts demanding change will the process of change begin. Unfortunately, waking the public up to this reality is like the old saw about training a mule – you got to get it’s attention first.

  4. Hi Charles-
    I think what I’m getting at is not that we seek to join the State of Jefferson movement (although it sure can be fun to imagine) – but that we try to work on this big conundrum above the survival emotion.

    I’m hoping that the big picture and the long term is something we get to revisit and spend some quality time with. I think a near-term tax is something that might help us accomplish this, and with a little pain, retain the services like parks, pools, senior centers, etc.

    There have been many blanket statements here about too much taxation, and too many services, and frankly, I agree – wholeheartedly! But we have to keep in mind that there are distinctly different frying pans for each taxed purpose. Lumping this tax in with everything we all pay for isn’t fair. Separate the frying pans – deal with the federal one over there, the State one over there, and the local one right here. I’m talkin about the local one.

    I know, first hand, how EXTREMELY lean Santa Rosa’s government is. Not to say there isn’t room for improvement, there always will be. Nor is this tax perfect. But it IS to say that when it comes to the services that matter to me most, I’d like the biggest slice of my tax dollar (or nine point five) to stay right here in Sonoma County & Santa Rosa.

    As far as families surviving by paying off credit cards and saving? I don’t know what world you live in, but the reality I see is much, much different. It’s called paycheck to paycheck… and if the funds are low, that means no organic vegetables this payperiod. It’s my reality, but it is also NO excuse to take our eyes off the prize. With great adversity also comes great opportunity.

    I’d still like to revisit that Federal Frying Pan, and insist that we STOP hemorrhaging Santa Rosa’s potential tax dollar into Afghanistan.

    ~jake

  5. Jacob Bayless,

    You wrote: ” … how you feel the US Defense Budget fits into all of this? Do you think the livelihood of the City of Santa Rosa should be tied to and dependent upon the success of the Feds, State and/or County above it? … I have come to the conclusion that our various local municipalities autonomy might be the best long term solution… … how we get there from here. ‘Cut, cut, cut’ doesn’t seem to me to be the worlds best transition strategy.”

    You’ve issued a challenge the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) of the Constitution and the consequent hierarchal structure of government. I don’t oppose this, in fact I am an ardent supporter of the Tenth Amendment. I just want to clarify that your intent is actually to revert to the pre-Lyndon Baines Johnson understanding of the relationship between layers of government.

    Regarding your “cut, cut, cut” comment, there is no transition. At this point there is only survival. Business knows it, they are acting to survive by building massive cash reserves. Families know it, they are acting to survive by paying off credit cards and saving at record rates. Only government hasn’t gotten the message.

    A few others here may think that the government has an infinite amount of money, but I credit you with a far more insightful and mature understanding of revenue, expenses, deficit, debt, local and state limitations on incurring obligations, and all the rest.

  6. Jim says:

    The arguments for are quite interesting, of course those in favor only speak in half truths claiming it’s only 25 cents. The reality is taken as a whole, $9.50 will be taken in tax for every $100 spent.

    Now of course this begs the question that not one tax increase supporter has answered: Why does the government need unprecendented taxes to perform the same basic functions?

  7. Sorry, Beef. I won’t engage with you unless I know who you are. Plain & simple. I don’t hide behind a moniker here, and I expect the same in return. Perhaps then, we can have a substantive public discussion. Until then, you’re simply a dog barking on a busy street.

    @DanDelgado – the pet projects bug me a little too… but those are pots of money that are currently untouchable. Perhaps some could be re-appropriated in the future with systemic changes, however keep in mind the processes that created those pots were largely put into place over the last couple decades… there is no clean & clear way to point blame for their existence! As such, the rationale that they are hooey is itself hooey – it’s a process and we’re stuck with it.

    @KayTokerud – I’d like to know how you feel the US Defense Budget fits into all of this? Do you think the livelihood of the City of Santa Rosa should be tied to and dependent upon the success of the Feds, State and/or County above it? I’m asking because I have come to the conclusion that our various local municipalities autonomy might be the best long term solution… based largely on some of the very same assertions that you’re making. The real issue, though, is how we get there from here. ‘Cut, cut, cut’ doesn’t seem to me to be the worlds best transition strategy.

    ~jake

  8. john bly says:

    more taxes = more progress? business owners please sound off-do you believe that?

  9. zuma says:

    The city should have thought about this when they were raising everyones salary that works for the city! And when they doled out retirement benefits.
    Or when they bought the Pac Bell building!

    We still overpay city workers and city has been unable to get off the tax and spend policy!

    How did all the stimulus money the city blew create new jobs! Our unemployment rate is still rising and is high then before the stimulus money was spent!

  10. Beef King says:

    Jacob Bayless points out his disgust for those older than he that have ruined the world for him, and then suggests that taxing ourselves into poverty is good.
    How about this Jacob…why don’t we first make an attempt to get what we’ve paid for before we pay for it again?
    Perhaps you can think about value based government and then post again.

  11. Amen @cheerleader. Fire them all..but vote wisely. Know thy candidate and know who supports them.

  12. Dan Delgado says:

    The city asks if it’s important to you to maintain core services? If so, so the city argument goes, you should be happy to pay an additional quarter cent sales tax. What a load of horse manure. Of course it’s important to keep core services, but I’ve got a better idea. Rather than squirreling our money away into special funds for bicycle boulevards, bicycle art projects, desirable but unaffordable second senior centers, $40 million public works buildings and other pet projects, let’s put some of that money to work providing those core services. This isn’t rocket science folks. If we put all our money into special funds, are we really surprised when the general fund runs dry? I’m sick and tired of these city pols crying like Chicken Little that the sky is falling when they were the ones who knocked the supports out from under it. Vote NO on P!

  13. Kay Tokerud says:

    I’m tired of people saying that increasing taxes is making progress. Government has grown way too large and they are spending too much money. Seldom are programs ever cut. They just keep adding more programs. Our national debt has grown so large that our country is at risk of collapse. If people have to downsize due to their sizable financial losses, then government must do the same. I want my leaders to do their jobs and figure out how downsize the government instead of coming after us to make up the shortfall.

  14. I’m really tired of the generations that preceded mine consistently standing in the way of progress, even when we call it taxation… not to mention selling mine down the river. When is it going to end? When are the QUIET Generations going to get off their duffs? In fact, I’m mad as hell, and you should be too. [Give this a read for a much more eloquent explanation: http://goo.gl/0656 ]

    @KayTokerud: The majority voted for the things that you call shaking down, plain & simple. Seems to me like you ought to run for office & test your mettle instead of more of the same verbal malarkey.

    Unfortunately, I recently moved to rural Sonoma County away from my home, Santa Rosa, so I won’t be able to vote YES on this imperfect tax measure. I certainly would have voted YES, and I encourage everyone to think twice about how we fund our local municipalities and all the services they provide.

    We all know the taxation system doesn’t work so well… one thing we all CAN do, however, is vote to tax ourselves a few pittance (for most) to ensure our Cities and Towns can operate above & beyond the impending State of California implosion.

    ~jake

  15. john bly says:

    Bad idea! I think we need to be providing incentives for folks to move here, work here, open or expand a business here. Think folks will want to drive here to buy things and pay an extra 1/4 cent in sales tax?

  16. @Fred Levin says:

    Pension promises for retired employees? These people worked for lower pay with the expectation that they would be receive these PROMISED pensions to compensate for the lower pay. Taking that away would be unethical.

  17. @Ed Dempsey says:

    City Council make $800 per month. Is that going to break the bank?

    @Everyone: Almost every California city is in this same situation. Keep blaming local council members for the state economy.

  18. @Jim says:

    Cotati Police are fulfilling their promises.

  19. @ Cheerleader
    Wow I alays was hated by the cheerleaders in high school too…and high school is what this board is turning into when a personal rant against me with nothing but attacks is posted. The redeeming factor is the image of Victoria Hogan or Kay Tokerud pictuting themselves as cheerleaders…I have to go scrub my retinas!

  20. Gene says:

    Bad idea.

  21. Cheerleader says:

    Lisa Maldonado says raising taxes won’t hurt anybody. What crap. Who listens to her? No one…except the tiny minority of people who happen to be running for office and need campaign cash.

    This is a great year to throw the bums out and if you need any help deciding who should go make a mental note of who Lisa is supporting. If Lisa supports a candidate, it is not a good sign. We don’t need any more candidates who can be bought or who get their talking points from Lisa Maldonado.

  22. Hans Dippel says:

    Measure P does not mandate nor guarantee that the funds will go to save at risk city-wide programs. The 1/4 cent sales tax hike for “Public safety, parks, pools and senior centers” will continue to “endure additional cuts” with or without the 8-year-long cash infusion from the proposed tax. It is one thing to say the money will go towards those programs, it is another to put it in writing. I say “Put it in writing.”

  23. RICHARD CANINI says:

    Marie Antoinette said – let them eat cake, it’s been said.

    Santa Rosa City Council seems to say, let them eat cake and we’ll tax it!

  24. Mad Dog says:

    I used to have a sign in my window. It said: “We Don’t Give Drugs to Drug Addicts. Why Give Money To Politicians?”

  25. Kay Tokerud says:

    It doesn’t look like Lisa Maldonado is gaining any traction on this site. Her constant use of the word ‘hate’ is tiresome. Where did she get that from? Did she coin it? Anyway, it’s very unproductive and probably causing a lot of people to abandon this forum. That would be a shame because there’s some pretty good debating going on here. Let’s not let her ruin it for all the rest of the people.

    Lisa’s constant need to defend herself, the ADC and Michael Allen has dominated the comments in this forum. I encourage others to voice their opinions and, Get Involved, It’s Your City.

  26. Jim says:

    @Lisa

    I believe Cotati was sold the same tax deal and look whats happening.

  27. Dan says:

    Wow Lisa,

    I count four uses of the word “hate” in your latest rant. Is that really what the North Bay Labor Council is about these days? If I were on the board of the NBLC I’d be asking myself if you’re doing us more harm than good.

  28. Hans Dippel says:

    “Public safety, parks, pools and senior centers are all mentioned as likely to endure additional cuts without the 8-year-long cash infusion from the proposed tax.” says the Council, however, the measure does not mandate that the revenue will go to these programs. They talk the talk, but in order to walk the walk. Earmarking the funds for these at risk programs should be in writing. Why isn’t it? What some fail to realize is that the economy is not at fault here as much as the mismanagement of funds by our local government. This tax hike is throwing good money after bad.

  29. @Jim from the article you are commenting about located above….
    “Public safety, parks, pools and senior centers are all mentioned as likely to endure additional cuts without the 8-year-long cash infusion from the proposed tax.”

  30. Beef King says:

    Santa Rosa’s tax measure is an EGREGIOUS idea.
    The city would save money by reducing their bloated staff salaries.
    Where are the comments from City Council candidates?
    How about a guest opinion or an article interviewing council hopefuls so that we can know where they stand on this specific issue?

  31. Jim says:

    @Lisa

    Correct me if I am wrong, but this sales tax increase will go to the general fund which means it is not specifically earmarked and won’t neccesarily pay for recreation, libraries, busses, et al.

  32. Michael says:

    @ Michael Aparacio: I don’t always agree with you, but I applaud your efforts at calling people on assertions that they make without backing them up or by using fallacious arguments. I cringed when I saw Lisa’s statement that “A quarter cent sales tax won’t hurt anyone” I wondered if you would call her on that and you did…in a respectful, interest-based manner. Thank you for elevating the level of discourse.

  33. @Michael I hear you about sales tax being regressive (yes it is) Unfortunately because of the GOP and their hatred of governrment and ANY tax the atmosphere for a fair and progressive tax (which is needed desperately) by the state is impossible until we change representatives and governor. Ironically it is the GOP tax haters who live in the districts that use the most government services and thus they are cheating their own constituents while our parks and schools and roads fall into disrepair and California a once beautiful state starts to look like a slum. But I still believe that a quarter cent to pay for recreation and libraries and buses is not onerous. Even poor people and working class people can afford it. The larger point which is illustrated by people on this board like Kay Tokerud (who is no friend to workers or the poor especially when it comes to low income housing intruding on her adbility to make profits in commercial real estate) hide behind anti tax rhetoric when they really just hate the govt and ANY tax or fee and want to do everything they can to discredit and tear down city, state and federal government plans and policies because they don’t believe in it. Look at the boards here, they are a hive of hatred and carping and negativity about every single govt endeavor from SMART to the Asthma coalition (!) Why? Because many of these people have bought into the propaganda that ANY tax is bad and a waste and anything progressive is “socialism”. You can hear the Fox News, Glen Beck talking points all day long. The fact is they WANT govt to fail, because they don’t believe in it and they don’t care about kids getting educated or people having health care or anything to do with the public commons because they don’t believe in the social contract. I think they are a small but vocal minority and those of us that to believe that it’s important to have firefighters and schools and parks and swimming pools and places for seniors to have healthy meals and socialize are important and valuable to our community. I know I do and that’s why I come on these boards.

  34. Jim says:

    This sales tax increase won’t solve any of Santa Rosa’s budget problems unless there is a major about face in the economy. They will be back again next year asking for more or figuring out other ways to tax you.

    This is like giving the heroin addict “just a little more” so they can kick the habit when what they need is detox.

    The city council won’t make the tough decisions so its time to vote them out, perhaps when there are new faces on the council the rest of them will get the idea people have had enough of there shenanigans.

  35. @Lisa, I agree that our times, in general, and especially proposals such as Measure P, challenge us to think about our priorities. Are we more interested in short-term economic stability or long-term economic sustainability? Are we committed to find economic solutions that avoid negatively affecting our neighborhoods’ quality of life, as well as any negative effects we are likely to have on the environment? Or will we find excuses to neglect our neighborhoods and environment in the name of economic solutions? These, and many other challenging questions need to be addressed in order to address Santa Rosa’s economic issues — including proposed solutions such as Measure P — well. But let’s avoid overstatements such as “A quarter cent sales tax won’t hurt anyone.” Many of us are in a position to absorb this tax, but it still will hurt us. Even if the funds are used wisely, and contribute to our community’s — and each of our personal — econimic stability, a tax hike has negative short-term effects. Just as importantly, it hurts some more than others; and it will hurt some more than others. So, just as it’s important for the measure’s opponents not to exaggerate its negatives, it’s important for the measure’s supporters not to minimize those negatives. I know you well enough to know you, personally, don’t; but the line “A quarter cent sales tax won’t hurt anyone” certainly did.

  36. John says:

    Lisa Maldonado needs to remember that those sales tax increases also apply to the local school’s purchases of supplies. A 1/4 percent increase does hurt.

    My favorite wines have gone down in price. On the other hand, Comcast continues to increase every year, just like Santa Rosa sales taxes. I dislike paying either Comcast or Santa Rosa more.

    I’d really love some of whatever you’re smoking these days. It must be some powerful good stuff!

  37. home girl says:

    Ms. Maldonado supports Michael Allen’s political ambitions, as a powerful force in the local labor movement Mr. Allen has one mission in Sacramento, to preserve bloated pensions and benefits for union members. Of course she will support any sales tax increase in an effort to assure overtime will be included in the basis for calculating pension benefits and avoid any realistic adjustments to pension benefits. Drastic changes are called for, among them: future elimination of state, county and local pension benefits, all employees will pay into Social Security and personal 401K plans. Currently public service employment is far better paid than private so the myth of paid less now for future pension benefits is a fallacy.

    As a previos poster points out Ms. Maldonado cries openly for the low income segment of the population but her remarks reveal her true interests.

  38. Joe says:

    Why don’t we look at management and upper management? The city is so top heavy with layers of management, there are managers and supervisors that only manage three to six employees. I would rather keep my parks open and streets clean and functional than pay for all of this top heavy management. And the new city managers salary $215k plus a $100k benefit package, REALLY, city council could have done better than that and paid less. The public is always attacking the city employees at the bottom of the pole, start at the top they make the most and they drain the most.

  39. Dan says:

    So, a quarter cents sales tax won’t hurt anyone? The overly simplistic logic to the recurring “it’s only a (fill in the blank) increase” argument is symptomatic of our currrent financial malaise. By focusing on a single item only, the proponent relieves herself of any obligation to examine the larger cumulative effect of such a levy. Of course, the proponent on this particular case is a union activist so her myopic perspective is understandable. But the “it’s only” argument will be made by many in the coming months in support of various pet tax or bond measures.

    If only that it were a quarter cent. But this quarter cent tax is piled on top of previous levies, each if looked at individually would be little more burdensome than the current proposal. But cumulatively, all these various taxes have pushed the sales tax to over 9%, a rate rivaling and in some communities exceeding California’s income tax rate of 9.3%. These two taxes alone when combined with federal income tax take nearly fifty cents out of every spendable dollar earned. But that’s not the end of it. There are of course property taxes, vehicle license fees, transit occupancy (bed) taxes, excise taxes on selected products, property transfer taxes and related assessments, gasoline taxes and the list goes on. The cumulative effect of all these taxes and fees sucks the very lifeblood from our economy.

    So as you review all the tax and bond proposals on the ballot this November, be it “only a $10″ vehicle registration surcharge for bike lanes and bus routes, or “only an $18″ surcharge to fund state parks, or “only a $40″ parcel tax increase to help our schools, ask yourself about the cumulative impact of not only the current proposals, but all of their predecessors as well.

    Ask yourself if our government entities have done all they can do to reign in runaway spending (Santa Rosa councilman Ernesto Olivares candidly acknowledges they have not). Ask if the $1.4 million given by the state PUC to a PG&E contractor to investigate PG&E regading SmartMeters was well spent. Ask if California Schools Board Association CEO Scott Plotkin’s $400,000 salary in 2009 (over $1.6 million for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined) and his use of CSBA credit cards for cash withdrawals at local casinos was money well spent. Ask if Sonoma County Agriculture Commissioner Cathy Neville paid any attention to the financial implications of firing Animal Control Chief Amy Cooper on the eve of Cooper’s probationary period conclusion. Ask if Neville’s boss, County Administrator Veronica Ferguson, weighed the cost to taxpayers when requesting $65,000 to hire a consultant to determine if Animal Control should be taken away from Neville in the wake of Cooper’s firing. Ask if any meaningful attempts have been made to address the exploding public employee pension crises (don’t be lulled into thinking that Cotati’s recent adoption of two-tiered pensions for its police is meaningful-it is a political window dressing measure that sounds good, but affects new hires only and does nothing to address the existing problem). Ask if Windsor council member Cheryl Scholar in casting the deciding vote to hold a meaningless election at the cost to Windsor taxpayers of $25,000 was a sound decision. Ask if Santa Rosa’s new $40 million public works palace was money well spent. Ask if Santa Rosa’s purchase of the AT&T building and its subsequent sale at a loss of over a million dollars was money well spent.

    So the next time you hear the “it’s only” argument, you’ll know better.

  40. RICHARD CANINI says:

    A sales tax takes food out of the mouths of the poorest among us.The homeless and low wage workers regularly eat at fast food restaurants. They have little choice. Restaurant meals are taxed. Business meals are tax deductible. Have steak and lobster at home, no tax. Have a fast food burger, 9.5% [9.75%?]tax. Kid’s meals too are taxed.

    Pet food is also taxed. A pet maybe be a person’s only friend in a lonely and hungry world.

    Sales tax ought be significantly reduced or eliminated, in my opinion.

    Washington DC is where our efforts should be focused. The WALL ST bankers know that DC is the key. Rather than squeeze the poor for more get DC to help us like they helped the WALL ST bankers. DC found $700 billion for WALL ST in one week. Congress would not move that fast if its fanny was on fire.

    DC can provide all the money needed to meet all the people’s needs. Don’t let them tell you there are insufficient funds. Inflation need not be a problem. Inflation is too many dollars pursuing too few goods. Goods are available, it’s the dollars that are missing. Just like the Great Depression, there was food on the farm while people starved in the cities. The WALL ST crooks had cornered the cash. Where are Woolsey and Thompson on this issue. They both voted to give our money to the WALL ST crooks who caused this problem.

    WALL ST is still working DC, why aren’t we. DC has got the dough, that is where we need to go.

  41. Otto Eroto says:

    Vice president Joe Biteme, I mean, Biden has said paying taxes is patriotic. Need I say more?

  42. Kay Tokerud says:

    Lisa Maldonado’s comments on increasing the sales tax are just plain silly. According to her, it won’t hurt anyone. Aren’t there a lot of low-income people in Santa Rosa? Isn’t she always saying how concerned she is about helping the poor and promoting low-income housing? Then the absurd remarks about cable bills and buying wine. Many low-income folks don’t have cable at all, and buy wine at discount stores if they can afford it at all. Her double standard of on the one hand grandstanding for her favorite candidate, Michael Allen and all he supposedly will do to help the poor, and then on the other hand saying that increased taxes will have no effect on them is glaring.

    Will Lisa please explain how increasing the sales tax on the poor will be of no effect?

  43. Dogs Rule says:

    We are already taxed to death with sales tax, property tax, DMV fees, gas tax, never mind federal tax burdens that I really think I’m done voting for taxes. I can’t afford to vote anymore. That’s it.

  44. RICHARD CANINI says:

    FROM \The argument for Measure P
    The City of Santa Rosa faces its most serious fiscal crisis due to the severe recession that has devastated our state and national economies.\

    And due to the city’s own acts:

    1. We pleaded with the city council to not draw down the cash reserves. But they spent down the reserves.

    2. We pleaded with the city council to control the spending. But $100K was spent on a new logo, $350K was given to the chamber of commerce annually, $500K was spent for an incomplete landscape plan for 1.5 acres in Old Courthouse Square, more than one million dollars was lost on the AT&T project.

    3. We pleaded with the city council to control over time. But about $180K with over time was paid to a public service [self-service?] employee.

    4. The city council was asked to rebid a contract because the way they bid it, the lowest bidder did not win the contract. The city paid $10K more than the lowest bid.

    The choice between increase sales tax or reduced service is a false choice. It is a debate tactic, some would say trick.

    The City of Santa Rosa’s resources are misapplied. And there are other sources of income for the city.

    A sales tax is a soak the poor tax. And that is wrong.

  45. Patrick says:

    So, If I mismanage my money by spending beyond my means, I should demand a pay raise from my boss?

  46. Alex says:

    Though the city employees are always easy to blame because with progressives anyone who works is evil. Cut the damn social programs you idiot. Working people create jobs by shopping and buying local. Social programs create more dependency on the government for not working or contributing. How many illegal aliens are residing in our county and cities using services? Think of the special classes, Medi-Cal, WIC, food stamps, welfare, very and low-income housing units. You are so stupid to blame the police, firefighters, and the administrative who keep the city running. Take for example, the progressive pork projects one of the biggest in the city’s history..The Humboldt Bike Boulevard…1 million dollars! To ride within a neighborhood when there are already assigned bike lanes…why push it so we can be like Portland with their bike boulevard…yet, this will cause traffic throughout the neighborhood and make it more dangerous riding your bike to get to this 1 mile boulevard only to be greeted by a narrow street with cars backing out of driveways, people walking around, rotaries and obstacles…and for what to go downtown to an upscale restaurant?! Yeah, take the bike for that. Anyway, you can see how progressives spend for pork projects just like the right. Why not use that money for designated bike lanes throughout the city or fix the crumbling sidewalks. These leaders are not leaders but progressive destroyers of cities and those who follow “don’t have a pot to piss in”

  47. Lyn says:

    The problem isn’t “finding the money to pay for things that matter to us;” it’s government finding things that don’t matter all that much to spend money on and then, when money is tight, not cutting back to core functions of government.

    That is, someone in government needs to realize that now’s not the time (if there ever is one) to spend a $1 million or so on a senior citizen rec center, or that $40 million for a utility barn is, simply, obscene.

    Until then, the plea for more money has a very hollow ring to it.

  48. A quarter cent sales tax won’t hurt anyone. I am sure that many of the same folks who complain about paying more to have clean streets,parks for children, swimming pools, libraries and police and firefighters would think nothing of paying more when their cable bills go up or their favorite wine. It’s a matter of will and priorities. We find money to pay for the things that matter to us and make our communities better.

  49. Jane Bender is a progressive? Since when? Rather than employing such blatantly misleading (and, as always, irrelevant) personal attacks against Measure P, let’s talk about its content, okay?

  50. zuma says:

    How about cutting salaries of all civil servants by 10%, cutting benefits by 10% and cutting the sales tax by 10%?

    As the cities have sucked blood and money out of the people in this county to pad the pockets of the few that work for it and cities, isnt it time the shoot be put on the other foot?

  51. Ed Dempsey says:

    The Santa Rosa City Council has absolutely no credibility since Measure O (which was a gang-like “protection insurance” threat). After threatening the city with reduced police and fire services to scare voters into passing the measure – the city council voted themselves a pay raise (check the record!). No – no – no to more money. Deal with the issues like the private sector had to deal with the issues. Reduce the unsustainable pension liability – that was a well-intended but poorly thought through idea. Time to put the thought into it now.

  52. Mad Dog says:

    The Santa Rosa City Council has never stopped threatening to cut Police and Fire services when in need of more money. The City Council could go a long way in restoring their credibility if they were to look within City Hall itself for financial savings. Why does ANY city employee make more than $100,000 a year? If they are worth more than that, let them go earn their money in the private sector. No new taxes, No tax increases..and NO MORE BS!

  53. Mike says:

    The progressives on the Santa Rosa City Council haven’t awaken to the facts that they have to make hard choices which all politicians hate to make, and cut, cut, cut the budget. This means staff, benefits, wages, overtime in the Fire Department, to name a few items will have to be substantially reduced. They also need to look at their city buildings such as the new public works maintainance building which costs $40 millions dollars +. These are long term cuts which will make the public unions very angry and bring on many tears and threats of dire consequences when their programs and staff are eliminated or reduced.

    First cut and eliminate to show you mean it, and then ask for any tax increase. You haven’t done enough to date to show the public you are serious.

  54. Jim says:

    Anyone thinking this is a good idea need look no further than the recent article on how Cotati’s new sales tax incrase is being squandered.

  55. RICHARD CANINI says:

    “(Reuters) – Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.”

    Bernie Sanders,Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont wrote: “In 2009, Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history made $19 billion in profits and not only paid no federal income tax — they actually received a $156 million refund from the government.”

    If the federal government had more money it could grant more money to Santa Rosa.

    The government will not ask you: shall profitable corporation pay tax? But the government will ask you: shall the sales tax be increased?

    The government will not ask you: shall the people pay for WALL ST crimes? But the government will ask you: shall the sales tax be increased?

    The government will not ask you: shall the people pay for its mistakes? But the government will ask you: shall the sales tax be increased?

    Let this vote be a referendum on corporations, WALL ST and government.

    If you are happy with profitable corporations not paying taxes, and you are happy with WALL ST crimes, and you are happy with government then vote yes to increase our sales tax.

    If you think government is too generous to corporations and WALL ST, then vote no to an increase in our sales tax.

    Thumb up = yes increase sales tax
    Thumb down = no sales tax increase.

  56. Kay Tokerud says:

    I’m opposed to paying another 1/4 cent tax because they’ve already shaken us down for open space. the SMART train and Measure O. When does it end? The State took another full 1 cent tax recently. Pension reform is the best place to start reducing costs. First, get overtime for public safety employees reigned in. Next, do not consider overtime when calculating pension benefits, use their base salaries only. These two items will save a lot. Then, cancel the Station Area Plan that is preventing property owners from fully utilising their commercial and industrial properties. Those property owners, if left alone, can be economic generators for the city. Mixed-use development, the darling of the progressives is no longer a viable development model during this down market. Restore the property rights of these business and property owners and allow them to prosper and contribute to the economic base of our city.