City of Chula Vista Sales Tax, Proposition A (May 2009)
Proposition A was an attempt to add a one cents sales/transaction tax on purchases within the city limits of Chula Vista for ten years.
|City of Chula Vista Proposition A|
- These final, certified, results are from the San Diego County elections office.
Chula Vista's budget for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2009 was $152 million. The city was facing a $3.5-4 million deficit. Some projections estimated that the annual shortfall would be in the range of $20 million/year for the period 2009-2014. This was largely due to decreased property tax revenues because of the housing value collapse.
Recent city expenses as of the time of the vote in May 2009 on Proposition A included:
- A $66 million police station in 2001.
- A $51 million Civic Center makeover.
- A 25% pay increase over a five-year period for police officers, which began in 2005.
Since 2002, politicians in Chula Vista had taken funds from the city's rainy-day cash fund such that the fund had shrunk to an amount below the minimum set in city policy. The city policy requires that reserves should be at least 8% of the budget. This standard was adopted in 1996 to set aside money for unanticipated expenditures and economic downturns.
After the fund was used to close 2009's projected deficit of $3.5 million deficit, there was to be $6 million left in the reserve fund, or 4% of the city's annual budget. At the 8% level, there should have been $12 million in reserves.
In 2002, there was $31 million in the reserve fund.
Opponents of Proposition A
Ed Herrera, a member of the Chula Vista Human Relations Commission and Chair of the No on Proposition A campaign, led the opposition to the increase. He said it was the wrong time to approve a tax increase because:
- Unemployment is high, but the unemployed still have to pay sales tax.
- Familes are facing homelessness.
Herrera also said, "Proposition A is the cornerstone and product of absolute failure at City Hall. If it hurts our local jobs and businesses, then it's going to hurt families. We are in a recession, and we can't afford a cost-of-living increase."
Lani Lutar of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association was also opposed to Proposition A, saying, "Chula Vista politicians are on a runaway spending binge. When the economy was booming, most cities were building reserves and paying down debt. At the peak of the economic cycle, Chula Vista was overdrawing its accounts every year, outspending its income and running up more debt."
Supporters of Proposition A
Theresa Acerro, president of the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association, said that unless Proposition A passes, the city faced layoffs and service cuts.
Conduct of campaign
- According to the "Voice of San Diego," police officers called "residents at their homes warning of the pain and public safety hazard that they will face if they reject the sales tax."
- The city council agreed in February 2009 to give its police and firefighters guaranteed, across-the-board salary increases for each of the next five years.
- Residents complained to city officials that they received calls from campaign workers seeking support for Proposition A and could see from the caller ID on their phones that the calls were coming from a city phone line. City Attorney Bart Miesfeld was charged with investigating these complaints.
- Proposition 1 election results
- Voters reject Chula Vista sales tax hike
- San Diego Weekly Reader, "Tax Increase Too Costly?," January 23, 2009
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Chula Vista residents face jump in sales tax," March 14, 2009
- San Diego Union Tribune, "City reserves have been tapped since 2002," March 21, 2009
- Voice of San Diego, "Chula Vista Agrees to Salary Raises Ahead of Tax Increase Vote," April 1, 2009
- CITY OF CHULA VISTA AND IAFF LOCAL 2180 SIDE LETTER OF AGREEMENT
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Use of city phones for campaign is probed," April 3, 2009