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Measure CR gives local control of Claremont's tax dollars

I don’t think anyone likes new taxes. Yes, in most cases tax increases go toward good or at least necessary causes, but the pain of paying more is real and can’t be ignored. Rarely do voters get a say as to how and where tax money is used. And that’s the fundamental reason why supporting Measure CR is so important.

Measure CR will add .75 percent to Claremont’s current 9.5 percent sales tax, increasing it to the state mandated limit of 10.25 percent. If it passes, it will add $2.5 million a year to the city budget. That’s a big figure that can have a real impact on residents’ quality of life. The downside is obvious: more tax—yuck.

What makes CR different from other tax measures is a yes vote will guarantee our tax money stays in Claremont. A no vote will simply give other groups in Los Angeles County an opportunity to create their own measure in an effort to nab our tax money.

This statement is not a guess or estimate on my part, but a promise that at some point in the near future, Claremont’s sales tax will be 10.25 percent, regardless of the CR outcome. The tax train has already left the station.

Voting no on CR will not keep our sales tax from increasing. It only delays the inevitable.

Although this puts us in a tough position—welcome to living in California—it’s critical we keep this tax money under local control, even though there are numerous other legitimate needs in the county.

We have to be mindful and honest with ourselves; there’s enormous competition for any new tax money, and Claremont needs to compete. Voting no simply takes us out of the ballgame.

For example, the Los Angeles County Fire District is considering a funding measure to bring to voters in areas they serve, which includes Claremont. They already have completed flyers outlining how the money would be spent. If this happens, Claremonters still get to vote, along with every other resident in LA County. If the firefighter measure passes, we lose local control on where the money is used, with the dollars being spread across the entire county. If the new measure is defeated, another group will step up with another measure.

This is exactly why Claremont residents should expect a sales tax increase. If we don’t take the money, someone will. It may sound unfair, but it’s the reality of California taxation.

Even though there are many important organizations deserving of our sales tax money—including firefighters—we have a responsibility to keep local money, local. 

 

What you will hear until November

Over the next month, you will hear much debate about CR that may sound as if the sky is falling. Welcome to Claremont politics, 2019 style. Residents are opinionated and not afraid to share. If it’s not personal, then it’s a good thing!

Yes on CR supporters will talk about how the city needs the money to keep our standard of living and will show in detail how the tax money could be used. They want voters to have as much information as possible. I can only hope they stay away from negative rhetoric.

No on CR supporters say the state will keep raising the sales tax ceiling to add new taxes. This is a good point that needs to be watched closely by voters. But this reasoning simply does not apply to Measure CR. Comparing a proven reality to future gloom and doom conjecture is not even an argument. It’s the same as telling us to vote yes because taxes could go down some day.

I would encourage voters to check a second source for statements made during the CR campaigning. A lot will be said, but is there proof? Both sides are not afraid to use scare tactics to get the attention of residents. The COURIER will continue to cover Measure CR up and through the election.

I’m the first to admit a sales tax increase is about as popular as a smog alert. But with a 10.25 percent sales tax soon to be a reality—regardless of the Measure CR voting results—the next question is how we spend the money.

I vote we spend it in Claremont.