To the Editor,
Timothy Smith made assertions about Measure P that are not accurate.
Transferring electric proceeds to the general fund has been done since the utility was formed years ago at a rate of about 10 percent per year. It is not a tax increase. nor is it new.
The funds are used to balance budgets. Paying for public safety, community service programs, State mandated policies introduced without funding mechanisms, and to maintain public buildings, and help with infrastructure issues.
You asked why we need this much funding when there is only a 1.5 million dollar short fall. The original deficit was 3.5 million. To get here each department was forced to cut deeply into the services they can provide. What happened? CalPers increased their demand by $460,000 and goes up again next year. CalFire’s contract increased by $353,000, in addition to a $200,000 increase last year. Riverside County canceled the Jail Memorandum of Understanding that gave us $450,000 a year to pay for four officers.
Measure P calls for “up to” a 7.5 percent transfer of funds. If the general fund requires less only the funds needed will be transferred. An audit of the general fund expenses directly attributable to the utility is 4.5 percent. These cover billing people, accounting services, fleet maintenance, and other provided services, and are not in question. This measure would increase the maximum transfer to 12 percent. That consists of the 4.5 percent of attributable expenses up to an additional 7.5 percent. Safeguards for the money’s usage are built in. They include an independent Oversight Committee, mandatory audits, and annual public reports. Also included is a three year rate freeze.
You asked, “Can’t new home taxes at Pardee and new pot manufacturing and retail establishments pay for this?” Not right away. Many years ago the agreement with Pardee allows them to build the first 500 homes free of impact fees. If they are built within the next two years the City will not receive those fees. Cannabis projected revenues will not be realized for two to three years. It will take time for the growers and retailers to go through the State and City permitting process and start generating taxable revenues.
Your statement, “That was an unlawful tax” is incorrect. Two court cases have ruled that “revenues eligible for transfer” by a utility to a city’s general fund are not a tax. The City’s “revenues eligible for transfer” averaged between $2 and $3 million annually.
Without Measure P what do we cut, police, fire, paramedics, youth programs, senior citizen programs? Do we stop City assistance to our signature events like the Playhouse Bowl and Stage Coach Days?
Our current reserves are $12 million.Under current circumstances, and knowing the financial future, our reserves will be depleted in four years. This would be devastating to the City’s ability to provide even the most meager services and public safety to our residents. That is why we need to vote “Yes” on Measure P.
George Moyer, Banning