City Council Member Admits Proposed .75 Percent Sales Tax Paves the Way for Millions of Dollars in S

The March 8, 2017 meeting of the Citizen’s Tax Committee included a lively discussion of the proposed .75 percent sales tax, purportedly designed to pay down the City’s huge unfunded pension liability. A City Council Woman, who attended the meeting, spoke up in favor of the proposed tax. Other CTC members pointed out that the proposed tax increase would free up millions of dollars for spending because the ballot language did not require the City to continue making their standard payments from the general fund (over 6 million dollars in 2016) toward the future PSPRS unfunded liability. The Council Woman admitted such new spending would be possible. She emphasized the City needed “wiggle room” and identified areas where she thought general funds could be spent.

In other words, this new tax is being sold to the public as "the solution" to pay down the City's unfunded liability. In reality, it is a means for the City to free up millions of dollars for "their" spending priorities. If the City diverts these general funds to other spending, it will impair and delay the proposed pay down of the City’s PSPRS unfunded liability. The City could have proposed alternative language which would have continued the standard payment from the general fund thus its total commitment utilizing the .75% tax to the existing unfunded pension liability. The proposed ballot language should have assured the voters the standard PSPRS payments would continue to be made from the general fund, and that the additional .75% tax revenue would be used to pay down the pension liability. Without such assurance, the voters' do not know exactly what programs they are supporting with this proposed tax increase.

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