Commentary: Mayor asks for Measure U vote
by Randy Johnson
Oct 24, 2013 | 9097 views | 5 5 comments | 492 492 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I have had the pleasure these past few weeks to talk to lots of people, some door-to-door, about our temporary ½-cent sales tax, Measure U. The response has been very positive.  Some heartily endorse the measure, agreeing that to keep current services intact that additional revenue is needed for our city. But not everyone favors this tax and they have their reasons and they are happy to share them with me. The “I pay enough taxes already,” is the most frequent reason given for resisting any new tax. I think they are surprised when I agree with them.

California has a pretty insatiable desire for taxing anything and anyone that moves. State income tax, sales tax, vehicle license fees, special levies, the list goes on. And the state routinely raids our coffers to spend on their pet projects.

But I do remind them that local taxes go for local services and projects that citizens need and expect. Police, roads and recreation are where most of our tax dollars are spent and to lessen dollars budgeted for those things would diminish our basic quality of life. And because much of the money raised by a sales tax is paid by visitors who make retail purchases in Scotts Valley, this tax is fair.

I have also discovered that people have long memories. Instead of a pat on the back for fixing Scotts Valley Drive, or developing a jewel like Skypark, or recapturing millions of dollars from the County that they were illegally taking from us, or providing community events like the 4th of July fireworks, folks do like to remind us that we make mistakes. Again I agree. We are not perfect. As a government agency, we will never be as efficient as most families, but I do believe that the tax dollar goes farther here than in most cities. 

Capitola is a fine city, but with similar populations and twice the number of square miles, Scotts Valley budgets around $8.2 million while their budget stands at more than $13 million.  Measure U will allow us to keep our budget where it is and keep our services intact. We are able to do more with less because we have 21 percent fewer employees then we did 10 years ago. Our City Manager wears two hats and is also our finance manager. Next month when our public works director retires, we will combine his job with another department head. Employees have been furloughed one day a month.

I like the fact that Measure U is a temporary tax and that people can vote on it. Keeping it temporary reminds us that it is the peoples’ money and not permanently entrenched in city coffers. And voting on it sends the message that city government must earn the right to receive more revenue and reinforces the notion that, at least locally, the people are in charge, not government.

But make no mistake; Measure U is critical to our City’s future. Without it, severe cuts will have to be made. The last time people voted in a temporary tax, the council respected that provision and let it expire after five years in 2011. Trust and fidelity matter. We said that we would only come to the voters when necessary. Well, now is that time. A ‘yes’ vote on Measure U will ensure that we keep the services we have and on November 5 I am asking you to help us achieve that goal.

- Randy Johnson is the mayor of Scotts Valley. He has served on the Scotts Valley City Council since 1996.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Just to be clear
November 08, 2013
To set the record straight, it is not the City of Scotts Valley "providing community events like the 4th of July fireworks" (to quote Mayor Johnson).

The Scotts Valley Park Advocates are the ones who pay for the 4th of July fireworks, NOT the City of Scotts Valley.

The Park Advocates - each member appointed by a City Council member - are a 501c3 organization that raises the funds that pays for the 4th of July fireworks each year for the community to enjoy.

Just to be clear...

Karina Smith
October 31, 2013
Does anybody really believe that services will be cut? Nope.

Maybe salaries and pensions should be cut.
October 31, 2013
1 cent of the new tax pays for health insurance for the Mayor Randy Johnson family. And 1 cent for the Vice Mayor Jim Reed family. And 1 cent for the Councilman Dene Bustichi family. That's out of the additional 50 cents per $100 for the new sales tax.

Scotts Valley City Council members get full-time benefits for part-time employment. The additional tax will cost $1,200,000 and health insurance for a council member family is $24,000 a year.

October 26, 2013
"And the state routinely raids our coffers to spend on their pet projects."

So we need to cough up more money because the state stole ours? Wow, isn't government great? Maybe it's to pay for all those drivers licenses for illegals.

Scott Valley
October 30, 2013
Well, that is about an ignorant of a comment that I have read. Are you for real? You clearly can't be that dumb. Or maybe you are.

And bringing "illegals" into the conversation?

I'm sure glad you are not running our city.


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