In a recent council meeting we experienced one of the most irresponsible and ideologically misguided acts in recent memory. Newport Beach was eligible for $480,000 in needed state funds to improve our streets, specifically MacArthur and University. Rather than pass a simple resolution to meet the eligibility criteria for these funds, our council by a 5-2 vote, rejected the application and thus turned down funding that was due our city, from revenue generated by Newport Beach motorists.
Council Members said they wanted to “send a message” to Sacramento that they oppose the recent increase in the gasoline tax. I oppose this increase too. The California gas tax, like the sales and income taxes are the highest in the nation. Sacramento needs to reduce taxes to promote economic growth. But refusing to accept money due to the city and generated by Newport Beach taxpayers is the height of ideological foolishness. The tax is not reduced by one penny. The “message” received by Sacramento is that our local officials are irresponsible and the California Transportation Commission should feel free to allocate tax dollars generated in Newport Beach to Los Angeles and Oakland, much the same way they redirect our property taxes. You can hear Sacramento laughing at us.
Team Newport told us we can’t afford to improve our streets, libraries and community centers. Then, they happily cut another $480,000 hole in the city’s revenues. Unfortunately, this may not be the end of it. OCTA estimates this new revenue source could provide $1.9 million annually to the city for needed street and road improvements. Are they going to continue to “make a point” by refusing this money? Keep in mind, this is money generated by Newport Beach motorists.
We are used to ideological posturing by Council Member Peotter on issues like this, but here he was joined by his Team Newport partners. Indeed, Peotter initially moved to approve the application, and then voted against his own motion when it became clear he was being outflanked by people more extremist then himself. Credit to Council Members Brad Avery and Diane Dixon for not participating in this political stunt.
We can calculate the cost to Newport taxpayers of this political posturing: $480,000 this year and approximately $1.9 million each year thereafter when fully phased in. Newport Beach taxpayers cannot afford this level of irresponsibility. To deny Newport residents the benefit of the taxes they themselves pay is simply inexcusable.
Keith Curry, Former Mayor of Newport Beach
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