July 12, 2010
CONTACT: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
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Coalition Denounces Sales Tax Proposal by City of San Diego
Speakers press for reform before revenue and full implementation of managed competition
(San Diego) – A coalition of taxpayer and business advocates, elected officials, and concerned citizens united to voice their opposition to a proposed sales tax increase in the City of San Diego. A parade of speakers called for the City to address pension reform, implement managed competition, and impose spending cuts before asking taxpayers for any more of their hard-earned money.
T.J. Zane, President & CEO of The Lincoln Club of San Diego County, moderated the presentation at Westfield University Towne Center. “Make no mistake, this is an intervention. City politicians and the public labor union bosses to whom they are beholden are like drug addicts and our tax dollars are their drug of choice. Today we are making it clear we will no longer be their enablers by providing them with a ‘quick fix’ – in the form of a sales tax increase – that produces only a temporary high but fails to address the real problem. Taxpayers are demanding tough love: REFORM before REVENUE!”
April Boling, CPA and Past Chair of the City's Pension Reform Committee, said that the City should negotiate reduced pension benefits rather than expecting members of the public to pay for benefits that far out-pace the private sector average. "All city employees should contribute an amount matching the City’s contribution," said Boling. She also recommends that elected officials and top management immediately convert to a straight defined contribution program. "It's fair, it makes sense, and it avoids any possible conflict of interest when those individuals make decisions regarding pensions," said Boling. She added that "the savings can then be invested in services such as improved public safety protection as well as infrastructure repair and maintenance."
Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer and City Councilmember Carl DeMaio urged their colleagues on the City Council to stand with them and make tough decisions they were elected to make.
“Nobody wants to send more money to City Hall right now,” said Faulconer. “Most people are struggling, and the City hasn’t done all it can do to cut costs. Our focus should be on implementing effective managed competition and making additional pension and retiree healthcare reforms – not raising taxes.”
"The solution to San Diego's financial problems is not tax increases on our working families. It's structural reform of the City's spending practices, starting with the pension system," said DeMaio.
Tony Krvaric, Chairman, Republican Party of San Diego County, said the Party stands in strong opposition against any proposed sales tax on behalf of its more than 180,000 members in the City of San Diego. “Let’s call this tax what it really is – a pension tax to bail out politicians and public employee labor union bosses. It's time to put the interests of hard working San Diego taxpayers first, and we call on the local Democratic Party to join us in opposition to this regressive tax."
Lani Lutar, President & CEO, San Diego County Taxpayers Association, says the Association remains consistent with its opposition to revenue proposals like these that have been attempted in other cities prior to reform efforts. “We expect much more to be done before asking citizens to cough up more in taxes,” said Lutar. She pointed out that there is nothing to ensure any tax increases will pay for essential services such as police, fire and lifeguard protection. The funds could go to salary increases. “It makes no sense to pour more money down a black hole,” said Lutar. “An increased sales tax would ensure zero incentive for reform and prolong the structural budget deficit because we’d be turning a blind eye to the source of our current problems – unsustainable pension benefits and a bloated bureaucracy.”
Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters, pointed out that the City’s proposed sales tax increase will drive shoppers to the internet, neighboring cities with lower tax rates and Navy exchanges and commissaries. “Smart consumers will shop online or take their business to neighboring lower tax cities such as Poway, Santee, or Chula Vista. Our large military community -- active and retired -- will shift more spending to Navy exchanges and commissaries which don’t charge sales tax. "
Rider added that "with such changes in consumer buying, the City loses not only some of the projected revenue from the proposed increase -- it loses an additional 1% sales tax that it currently collects. On top of that, the increase will harm San Diego retailers and their employees. Beware the law of unintended consequences.”
Speakers urged business owners and citizens to voice their opposition by contacting Mayor Jerry Sanders and the members of the San Diego City Council to urge them to abandon the sales tax proposal and instead focus on much needed reforms.
About The Lincoln Club
The Lincoln Club of San Diego County is the only organized, business-oriented political action committee in the County that makes an impact in local elections by supporting pro-economic growth policies and candidates.
The Lincoln Club’s membership is comprised of politically like-minded and influential business and civic leaders from across the broad spectrum of the county’s diverse economy. As an influential and respected political organization, The Lincoln Club unites behind clear, focused messages that resonate within the business community; fills a void in public debate as a reasoned, pragmatic voice on business and economic issues; and avoids divisive social issues, uniting and building victories in a political marketplace overcrowded with more picket signs than actual accomplishments. Visit www.sdlincolnclub.org to learn more.