Questions about sales tax proposal

August 21, 2013 

"City of Modesto Public Safety/Essential Services Measure. To address crime, gangs, drugs and youth violence, improve the local economy/jobs, and maintain/improve essential City services, including:

• Police/fire protection;

• Neighborhood police patrols;

• 9-1-1 emergency response;

• Gang crime, theft and burglary prevention;

• Street/pothole repair;

• Programs attracting businesses/creating jobs; and

• Other City services,

Shall the City of Modesto enact a 1¢ sales tax, for 6 years, with independent annual audits, citizens' oversight, and no money for Sacramento?"

These words all sound right minded and well meaning, but they do not address the problem — why can't we pay for these things out of the general fund?

Why? Because we do not have the money. It is getting spent elsewhere. Where? The best explanation I have heard is that the city does not have enough revenue because business is slow and we are not generating enough cash to cover the cost of our pension obligations.

If we kick the can down the road, will we have the money in six more years? How much money do we need to cover the underfunding? Will 1 percent do the job? If yes, then pay off that obligation exclusively.



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