2992 Voters in National City, out of 15,000 eligible voters, approved a 1% sales tax increase, on June 6, 2006. On June 20th the National City Council unanimously approved a $36 million dollar budget, with a heavy emphasis on hiring, police and planning personnel in particular, and a restoration of services. The budget goes into affect July 1, 2006. The sales tax does not go into affect until October 1, 2006 a three month lapse.
City Budgets and Forecasting, for the future, is something that the National City Council has not exactly shinned at in the past. It has been because of bad planning and mismanagement of past budgets that this city has gotten into trouble in the first place. The City Council has had to try and try again to pass a sales tax in order to make up the budget deficit that it was facing! The 9 million dollar deficit has caused the City Council to do some serious soul searching. When the first attempt at passing a sales tax failed, the City had to make severe cuts to keep from going bankrupt.
With the passage of the 1% Sales Tax, National City now has the highest sales tax in the County! This City Council couldn’t wait to start spending again. Yet, nothing has changed! The City is still in debt. To make up the difference and to pay for the new expenditures the City Council, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that they will borrow the money that they need. Now, we are not experts in running a city and managing multi-million dollar budgets, but common sense should tell us that once you are in debt, that when you borrow you go into further debt! That 9 million dollar deficit is now 18 million dollars.
The 1% Sales Tax was passed to deal with the 9 million dollar deficit not an 18 million dollar deficit! The City won’t realize any income from the Tax until November at the earliest! Lastly, all income is projected; the City Council has no plan if the income does not meet expectations.
We are perplexed at why this city council didn’t show some restraint in their budget planning, maintain the services at the current level, reducing expenditures and wait until the sales tax started delivering revenue and then plan expenditures. The past four years should have been a lesson to the City Council, but clearly this was a lesson that went over their heads. This City Council has pinned all their hopes on this 1 percent sales tax increase. What happens if it doesn’t do the job! They noted the possibility of cost increases but didn’t factor it in and they never addressed the need to better deal with the Pension Fund deficit.
This budget flies in stark contrast to the promise of Prop. D that this tax would be reviewed and if determined that it is no longer necessary will be eliminated prior to the ten year life of the tax. With this budget there is no hope that this tax will be retired early.
It looks like the residents of National City can look forward to years of debt and soon the City Council will be asking you, the Voters, to pass another Bond or Tax to bail them out from their Budget woes. Remember, this is your City Council and Mayor. It’s up to you to keep them in office or FIRE THEM!