Commentary: Scotts Valley situation dire without sales tax
by Danny Reber
Oct 03, 2013 | 11304 views | 7 7 comments | 548 548 recommendations | email to a friend | print

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce and its Board of Directors. 

You may have already heard of Measure U.  This is a proposed temporary sales tax to fund our city services.  This would be a half percent sales tax and would be in place for only eight years. This means that when you shop in Scotts Valley, $0.50 of every $100 spent would go towards this tax.

The City of Scotts Valley has traditionally been a low tax city.  When compared to the rest of the county this is unique. Cities such as Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Watsonville all have a permanent additional sales tax.

As you may recall, the previous temporary sales tax, Measure C, reached its sunset in 2011. When it was conceived, the intent was for it to be a temporary measure as well. Unfortunately, two unforeseen things have occurred since then.  The first, and most obvious, was the recession.  The other major blow to our city budget has been the elimination of redevelopment agencies by the state of California. As a result of the loss of these essential revenues, Scotts Valley's general fund will no longer be able to meet the needs of its community.

Our city has already been running on a bare bones budget.  The City has reduced the number of employees by 21-percent (16 employees) over the past 10 years through a hiring freeze and elimination of positions.  This means several employees are now handling two jobs at the City. 

The City has also instituted a work furlough of one day per month where employees do not work and are not paid for that day.  To quote our Mayor, Randy Johnson: "New taxes are never a first option with this council but with what the state of California takes from the city each year, keeping our core services intact has become more challenging.  We will continue to spend tax dollars wisely on what matters most to people: police, roads, and recreation for our young people".

Whether you are a lifelong resident or have only recently moved here, I think we can all agree on one thing; Scotts Valley is a very special place to live.  When compared to the rest of the Santa Cruz County, one might even call it an oasis.  While other parts of the county struggle with some of the worst crime statistics in the state, Scotts Valley remains a safe place to live with a police response time of less than three minutes.  We have facilities and programs for our seniors.  We have beautiful parks to enjoy with our families and recreational programs for our children.  Aside from the people themselves, these are among the very things that make Scotts Valley such a wonderful place to live and do business.

Make no mistake, the situation is dire.  This is an emergency.  Without this temporary measure to supplement the general fund, everything we hold dear and sacred about our community is in peril. 

Even our business community is in full support of Measure U. The Board of Directors for the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce has unanimously endorsed Measure U. We also put the word out to our business members to see if there was any opposition to this endorsement. There were zero objections. 

So when you vote on November 5, the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce asks that you join us and vote “yes” on Measure U.

- Danny Reber is the President of the Board of Directors for the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce

Comments
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City gave away $364k
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October 09, 2013
To the previous poster. Thanks for the link to the San Jose article http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_23516733/you-pay-this-little-known-perk-pension-pickup

According to the table in the article, our Scotts Valley City Leaders very generously gave themselves an extra $363,908 in 2012. Apparently the City Council paid not only the City portion but also the "Employee" portion of the Scotts Valley workers pensions. Seems to me that the City Employees should be paying the portion that is there responsibility. Scotts Valley is the only local government agency to give this gift to it's employees. What gives? If the City is in such horrible financial shape why is it giving away our tax money. Read the San Jose Mercury article as it will open your eyes.
Anonamous
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October 09, 2013
According to the table, even though Scotts Valley councilmembers only get paid $6,000 a year, Bustichi, Reed, and Johnson each got $24,000 for medical, dental, and vision benefits! Just a few hours a month of boring meetings and no worries about Obamacare!
Anonamous
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October 08, 2013
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_23516733/you-pay-this-little-known-perk-pension-pickup

"Wow, that's real money," said Ralph Kanz, an Alameda County activist and former chairman of Oakland's Public Ethics Commission. "The system has gotten twisted up from what it was meant to be."

A new analysis of the Bay Area News Group's latest collection of government compensation data revealed that at least 117 public agencies from as far south as Gilroy to as far north as Cloverdale picked up a portion of their employees' retirement contributions in 2012 -- a growing concern as governments scramble to find ways to control runaway pension costs.

This often hush-hush benefit negotiated during rosier economic times can put thousands of extra dollars in public employees' paychecks by relieving them of costly payroll deductions. But the practice can get so expensive for local governments that last year state lawmakers banned agencies that belong to the giant California Public Employees Retirement System from offering pickups to anyone hired after Jan. 1, 2013. Reforms led by Gov. Jerry Brown are designed to get workers to pay a higher share of their retirement costs. The state retirement system for teachers has never allowed the practice.

That hasn't stopped agencies such as BART, the Association of Bay Area Governments and towns such as Portola Valley, SCOTTS VALLEY and Hollister from lavishing more than 99 percent of their employees with pension pickups of 100 percent. Last year, BART spent $17 million covering what employees were supposed to be contributing to their pensions.

"It's gotten out of whack," said BART's general manager, Grace Crunican, who is pushing in labor negotiations to halt all pickups, even though taxpayers last year picked up $17,500 of her pension costs. "It's called the 'employee share' for a reason."
Tom Lannister
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October 08, 2013
I'd really prefer that the Chamber advocate for the business community than the city council.
What budget problem
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October 07, 2013
On May 21, 2009 then Mayor Randy Johnson was quoted in the Sentinel stating “There are a lot of cuts being made by other entities in the county that we are not seeing here."

Arguably the City Council had their eyes off of the growing Scotts Valley budget deficit and we now know that the Scotts Valley City Council should have begun scaling spending back a very long time ago.



Let’s look at the facts:



Eight years ago,in 2005, the City of Scotts Valley was running an annual deficit of $800,000 per year on an annual budget of $7,300,000. In 2005 the situation was considered so dire that Councilmen Johnson and Dene Bustichi proposed that the City vote for a 5 year temporary sales tax increase which became known as Measure C.

Dene Bustichi and Randy Johnson quickly labeled the temporary tax increase a “Bridge to the Future”. The idea was that the tax would be a financial bridge that would allow the City time to gradually reduce its annual budget deficits. In 2005 the City had few options and Measure C passed at the ballot.

Following the passage of Measure C, the City should have been looking for ways to reduce the deficit spending but instead of reducing the annual City budget the Council approved increasing the budget by $1,000,000 to a current $8,300,000 spend a 12.3% increase. By blaming this problem solely on the State, the City Council is not taking responsibility for this problem. They are being disingenuous at best others might call it outright cowardly and dishonest.

Theryl McCoy
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October 05, 2013
Dearest republicans of the Scott's Valley area.

Why is it that you need to raise taxes on yourselves? I have always been under the impression that conservatives do not like to raise taxes. Too many entitlements?
Anonamous
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October 06, 2013
It's to fund the police state so the homeless, drunk drivers, drug addicts and drug dealers move toward Felton or Santa Cruz.


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