Republicans at the national level have made a name for themselves for being against any sort of tax hikes and that kind of pledge is certainly key to their prospects in this fall’s election.
But sticking to that credo is getting tougher and tougher for Republican elected officals at the local level as sales tax revenues continue to slump at city halls throughout the county.
This month in Costa Mesa, council members looked as if they were tasting bad medicine when city manager Alan Roeder told them they face a $4 million budget gap this fiscal year despite already trimming $22 million in costs.
Because they’ve said no to hiking ambulance rates in the past, Roeder told them the next option is to seek a ballot initiative in November seeking to hike Costa Mesa’s business and hotel taxes.
“This is pretty bad,” said Mayor Alan Mansoor – who is running for state assembly in the 68th Assembly district – as he motioned to have staff begin preparing the language of such an initiative. He then reminded people that the council is only authorizing studying the issue.
Across the county in Garden Grove, city officials told council members that the general fund can’t keep paying to subsidize paramedic services and that property taxes will have to be hiked in order to keep 5-minute response times on emergency calls.
They need another $3.5 million to meet the shortfall.
Council members approved the rate hike on a 3-1 vote with little comment.
Later, Councilwoman Dina Nguyen – who ran for county supervisor in 2008 – said she voted against the measure because she wants people to spend their money on the economy, not taxes. She also said she didn’t want her vote to be seen as being against the firefighters, or the city staff but that she just thought there was a better way.
“I didn’t hear her say what that is,” said fellow Republican and Garden Grove Mayor Bill Dalton.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.