Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh is, once again, wanting to tax us, ostensibly in the name of public safety. His plan is a tax increase when the budget is, by his own admission, balanced and producing carry-over money to fund city improvements. He previously suggested a half-cent tax for public safety with an additional half-cent for a variety of undefined issues and projects in Measure X, which lost in 2013.
Now comes the half-cent tax suggested in his state-of-the-city address, primarily for public safety but with a development segment attached. Opinions on the city council range from “no” to “I need more information,” to “good idea.” Until downtown building owners decide to negotiate with renters and push to bring businesses downtown, the urban vacancy issue will remain. Taxpayers should not be called upon to agree to give away funds to business owners to provide building facelifts, wages, etc. Unless the business is able to carry itself, it may be advisable to think it over, study the locations and not look to a city barely recovering to fund a gamble.
Ambiguity doomed the last tax increase measure. A lack of clarity on this half-cent increase will likely doom this one.
Ron Jeske, Modesto