In our ten questions for the candidates running for City Council, Santa Barbara View asked… What new revenue sources do you envision for the City of Santa Barbara?
“Revenue shortfalls to meet long-term infrastructure and pension obligations afflicting our City are shared by almost every municipality in California. There simply is not enough revenue to cover all of the costs we, as a society, have agreed to pay. There is a growing dichotomy between the expectations of the majority for government services and largesse, and the willingness of those with the ability to pay to bear the costs. In a democratic society, when wealth is increasingly polarized and the majority of people feel that they are not sharing in the economic benefits their work creates, this is inevitable.
The State’s budget has been balanced based upon “temporary” sales tax increases and taking revenue sources away from cities and counties. I do not argue with the need for these actions, but recognize that they are only a temporary reprieve from the need to resolve structural fiscal problems. The State has simply passed its budget shortfalls down to local government to resolve. Some relief will, of course, come from the end of the recession, increased incomes and the inevitable inflation that eventually will result. But relying solely on that to solve our problems would be folly.
I believe that the cities, hopefully but not necessarily in cooperation with the counties, need to work together to propose revenue options to the state legislature and the citizens, to create new income sources. As a commercial landowner, I know that my property taxes on leased buildings have not increased at anywhere near the rate my rental income has. Certainly I am taxed on that income, but those funds go to the State and Feds, whereas property taxes remain a major source of local revenue. Creating some fair way to slowly have commercial property taxes reflect the increased values and cashflow received by property owners could generate significant revenue for local governments, although deductions generated will have some offsetting cost to state and federal coffers. There are other options, but this is my initial suggestion.” – David Landecker
“Over 60% of our General Fund revenues come from taxes. I do not support new taxes on our residents or businesses. After property taxes, the largest sources of revenue are bed taxes and retail sales taxes. We need to grow the revenues we have. Keeping tourists coming depends on maintaining what makes Santa Barbara special: its views, its architecture, its small town feel and its historic resources. We must continue working to keep our community safe and clean because these qualities encourage visitors’ and residents’ patronage of local businesses. As well, our urban forest, often taken for granted, is vital to the City’s attractiveness and to its air quality.
We have a lively sports-minded community, and we should work with the tourist industry to create “stay and play” packages to encourage more visitors to use our many recreational opportunities. We must also continue promoting cultural and arts events that draw residents and visitors alike.
We should also explore funding opportunities though public/private partnerships to renovate some of our aged facilities like the Cabrillo Bathhouse that could generate new revenues from additional programs and improved services. As an example, we’ve had significant revenue growth at the Carrillo Recreation Center since its renovation.
Also, by streamlining the administration of the City’s Parking Enforcement Program, the current $4+ million of revenues could be increased.” – Lesley Wiscomb
“As the economy improves, the City continues to see an increase in revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and transient occupancy (bed) tax. I support expanding enforcement of existing tax collections, including business license fees and transient occupancy tax collections for short-term rentals.” – Megan Alley