Each member of the Goleta City Council spoke to the News-Press concerning their positions on Measure B, the Goleta sales tax.
Mayor Paula Perotte gave the following statement to the News-Press, emphasizing that she is speaking as a private citizen and not as the Mayor of Goleta: “As a member of Goleta’s city council, I’m proud that a super-majority of us voted to put this on the ballot for voters to decide whether to close our funding gap for vital services, including police and fire safety, safe roads and sidewalks, and clean creeks and beaches. Speaking purely as a Goleta resident for more than 40 years, I strongly support a yes on Measure B. I am convinced that an extra penny on a dollar is the best way to provide our residents and visitors with the level of services we expect and need.”
Councilman Roger Aceves was the only council member to vote against the sales tax. “I voted against, and stand firmly against, raising our sales tax without a clear and transparent plan as to how the funds will be spent. The one percent sales tax increase proposed by Measure B comes at a time when inflation is at its highest level in four decades, and interest rates are at their highest in over twenty years,” Councilman Aceves told the News-Press in an email.
“The increase called for in Measure B does not have an expiration date and will not require a future renewal vote. Instead, it would become a permanent tax that could only be repealed by a future ballot initiative. Since this is a general tax measure, there is no legal requirement that any of the money generated by this tax be used for the purposes suggested by the proponents. Sales taxes are regressive, meaning that they take a larger percentage of income from low-income taxpayers. Increased sales taxes also make it more difficult for local small businesses to compete. This sales tax increase will place an unnecessary burden on all Goleta taxpayers, while disproportionately affecting Goleta’s more vulnerable residents and small businesses. In the near future Goleta taxpayers will have to find ways to reduce expenditures to provide for themselves and their families. It is only fair that the city of Goleta do the same,” said Councilmember Aceves.
“I agree with the League of Women Voters, Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte, and business and environmental leaders who are all supporting Measure B,” said Councilmember James Kyriaco. “Measure B raises vital funds for fixing our roads, supporting 9-1-1 response and cleaning up our creeks, streams and ocean without raising taxes on gasoline, groceries, or medications. Similar measures in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria are funding important community priorities; Goleta deserves a funding source that can’t be taken away by the county or state.”
“I voted in favor of the proposed tax increase. Why? Because there is a critical need for additional funds, and because the new money collected would be targeted to those critical priorities, based on a spending plan voted on by council,” Mayor Pro Tem Stuart Kasdin told the News-Press in a statement. “The plan allocates over half the funds generated to the city pavement program, the critical maintenance backlog, and priority infrastructure projects. The other half is for the other identified priorities, in which council unanimously voted for programs, but which are presently largely unfunded.”
Mayor Pro Tem Kasdin outlined three areas of need: First, “pavement maintenance and road repair: Since 2009, in 10 of the last 13 years our road funding fell short of the amount necessary to avoid additional deterioration in the average road quality. Unfortunately, because of limited budgets, the city postponed the necessary spending to maintain our roads. As a result, the costs rise — simple repairs are no longer possible, and expensive rebuilding becomes necessary.”
Second “infrastructure put on hold: Important projects like the western fire station 10 are not being implemented as we seek grant funding and loans. Likewise, other delayed projects include reconstructing the Lake Los Carneros bridge and refurbishing the community center,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kasdin.
Lastly, said Mayor Pro Tem Kasdin, “unfunded critical needs. We have many priorities called for in the city’s general plan. However, while recognizing their importance, we don’t have the funds to accomplish them. Our plans include preventing polluted stormwater runoff from entering local creeks and coastal waters, enhancing our open spaces and recreational opportunities, creating safe routes to schools, restoring creeks, and addressing homelessness. We are determined not to see these objectives as empty statements, just plans left on the shelf.”
Councilmember Kyle Richards, whose letter to the editor ran in last Sunday’s News-Press, also expressed his stance on the sales tax.
“I support Measure B in order to provide and maintain critical services that Goletans need and deserve. Western Goleta has been identified as being deficient in fire response, and we deserve to have Fire Station 10,” Councilmember Richards told the News-Press in an email. “The cost of our police services continues to rise, yet Goletans deserve to maintain our standing as one of the safest cities in California. Goletans deserve to have clean creeks and a well-endowed library. We deserve to have a community center that is safe and accessible to all, with a senior center program that serves the needs of the community. We deserve a city that has well-maintained streets and parks. Our businesses deserve to have a strong and well-funded economic development plan that encourages visitors to shop at our businesses and stimulates affordable housing to house employees. Although some have highlighted the city’s healthy reserves as a reason to oppose the measure, being fiscally prudent should not be used against the city’s efforts to respond to community needs. The city wisely maintains healthy reserves and unallocated general funds, but these are one-time funds and should only to be used in the case of an emergency. Additional permanent funds are needed to accomplish the city’s long-term goals.
“Almost half the revenues would be paid by non-Goletans, and this measure would put our sales tax at (or still below) our neighboring cities. Importantly, 100% of the revenues would be kept in Goleta, untouched by the county. The tax would not apply to necessities such as rent, groceries, gasoline, or medicine. I support Measure B because it is a sound investment in Goleta and its residents,” said Councilmember Richards.
The tax will not go into effect until 2024.