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Readers comments 7-15-19

Committee urges support for city sales tax measure

The city of Claremont is operating under a structural budget deficit. Until now, the city council has approved balanced budgets by, among many measures, reducing staff, cutting back on community services and deferring maintenance on facilities, roads, and city vehicles.

Claremont faces a structural deficit which can no longer be overcome by further budget cuts without seriously affecting the quality of life in the community. 

In 2018, Claremont’s then-mayor and city staff selected a group of nine volunteer applicants to form the Future Financial Opportunities Committee (FFOC). The committee was tasked to consider new general fund revenue opportunities. 

After careful consideration, the committee presented to the city council several recommendations, including four strategies to be implemented immediately: increasing sales tax, regulating short term rentals, student fees and forming a purchasing corporation.

However, the most urgent and time sensitive initiative is increasing the sales tax.

The city of Claremont’s sales and use tax rate is currently at 9.5 percent, and the city relies heavily on it to support the general fund. Under current state law, the maximum sales tax rate that can be imposed is 10.25 percent. 

Los Angeles County, Southern California Air Quality Management District, and other regional and local public agencies are exploring placing their own sales tax measures on the November 2020 ballot, effectively addressing their own budget concerns.

If the county or other agency passes a regional sales tax measure before the city, it would capture the remaining potential sales tax revenues up to the state maximum of 10.25 percent and steer locally spent dollars to another agency’s budget, limiting the city of Claremont’s ability to collect its own sales tax in the future.

If we do not pass the sales tax measure, Claremont would lose about $2.5 million in sales tax revenue being allocated directly to our city and residents.

Claremont would not be alone in raising its local sales tax rate. Additional sales and use taxes have been implemented by several Los Angeles County cities over the past few years to provide funding for core city services.

Since 2016, 19 cities in Los Angeles County have received voter approval for additional sales and use taxes. On the November 2018 ballot alone, 11 LA County cities were successful in having sales tax measures approved by voters.

In March 2019, the neighboring city of Glendora was successful in obtaining voter approval of a sales tax measure. This will enable Glendora to capture additional revenue for their city ahead of other agencies.

Claremont residents have a choice:

1) Act now, approve the extra .75 percent and keep the money in and for Claremont’s benefit, or

2) Choose not to be proactive, and risk LA County levying, collecting and controlling the tax revenue as it sees fit.

The Future Financial Opportunities Committee unanimously agreed Claremont should approve and retain the revenue from such a sales tax increase, preventing LA County or another entity from claiming it. 

As members of the FFOC and residents, we appreciate that no one wants to increase the amount of taxes we pay; however, we believe that Claremont voters will see that the benefits outweigh the costs. 

A household spending $10,000 on goods purchased in Claremont, would incur $75 of additional sales tax. This is more a question of where you want your tax dollars allocated, not how much taxes you pay.

We acknowledge that there have been decisions made by previous city councils that are not supported by all residents and voters, but we can all agree that our city council is more accessible and responsive to us than LA County politicians. 

We strongly urge all Claremont voters to approve the sales tax increase to keep our tax dollars in our city.

 

Tammy Phan Peter Alvarado

Robert W. Bowcock     Maury Feingold

Gregory Lantz          Iraj Isaac Rahmim

Amanda Sabicer           Russell Binder

Former members of Claremont’s Future

Financial Opportunities Committee

 

Jed Leano’s mission

Dear Editor:

The report on Councilmember Jed Leano’s recent trip to the border was immensely enlightening regarding the inhumane conditions, and Catch 22 process, asylum seeking refugees face upon seeking their internationally-recognized legal rights.

In addition, this piece of reporting reinforces the importance of baring witness to evil in the world as well as the critical assistance a free press provides in this moral practice.

Without Jed’s eyewitness account to this newspaper, and to other news outlets,  we would not be aware of the horrific conditions, and illegal actions our government is engaged in, that this article illuminates. Democracies die without exposure to the truth. Thank you to all who breathed a bit of oxygen back into ours.

Rose Ash

Claremont

 

What about sustainability?

Dear Editor:

At the recent architectural commission meeting, I voiced support for the rehab of Knight’s Inn at Indian HIll and I-10.

I didn’t look closely enough at the drawings to notice that they showed no solar panels on the roofs. Therefore, I failed to ask, “Where are the solar panels?” My mistake.

Even worse, the commissioners didn’t ask, either. What happened to our vaunted focus on sustainability? Perhaps we’re being distracted from it by so many other details. I encourage our city council to:

1. Send a message to all commissioners reminding them to prioritize all aspects of sustainability—environmental, social and economic—in their deliberations.

2. Establish a policy that every commission shall have at least one member who is an avowed champion of sustainability in all of its aspects.

Bob Gerecke

Claremont