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Why Did City Council Rush To Support Another Tax?

Business Journal Commentary

January 16, 2013 - Despite the common-sense arguments by two councilmembers, Gerrie Schipske and Al Austin, to wait for the outcome of a January 15 hearing by the county board of supervisors, the Long Beach City Council voted on January 8 to support a countywide parcel "fee" aimed at funding clean water programs.

At yesterday's hearing, there was overwhelming opposition from homeowners, businesses, school districts and other property owners. The opposition was so vocal that supervisors took the correct action and tabled the proposal for 60 days. Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Long Beach, was already on record opposing the fee, which is nothing more than another tax on overburdened property owners.

There was no logical reason for councilmembers to take a position prior to the hearing, but, more importantly, why would our council representatives (Schipske and Austin voted no and DeLong wasn't present) support a new tax on their constituents that had no end date? Yes, it would go on forever. There were other problems associated with the proposal, primarily the ballot process to gain approval and that the final language of the ordinance would be adopted only after voters approved the measure.

The Long Beach Unified School District also opposed the measure because its price tag is roughly $715,000 annually. The city budget, or taxpayer's money, would take a hit as well, to the tune of $1.66 million annually.

The push to support the measure was led by Councilmembers Suja Lowenthal and Steven Neal. While cleaning up our water systems is a notable and necessary goal, why do some elected representatives see more taxes as the only answer?

As Schipske noted on January 8, "We are asked to support something that we don't have all the information about, which is bad policy making." We could not agree more.