Election Day brought budget relief to the state, and to three Solano County cities in the form of tax increases.
Measure I, which renews an existing excise tax, should bring in an estimated $2.4 million a year to Vacaville once it kicks in in January 2014. Measure M, a 0.25 percent sales tax increase, will generate an estimated $3.5 million a year for five years, beginning with the start of the 2013-14 fiscal year July 1 – three months after the tax goes into effect.
City Manager Laura Kuhn offered her City Council some sobering thoughts a week after both measures passed muster with Vacaville votes on Election Day. She warned that a great deal of work still needs to be done and that the city is by no means clear of its financial troubles.
The state, for example, could still come after cities to balance its own budget. Then there’s the limited life of Measure M.
“We need to be mindful that this is temporary and we need to shore up our budget so that we can stay within our means,” Kuhn told the council Tuesday. Failure to do so, she said, will see the city in another financial hole when Measure M expires.
That’s sage advice, and a sound warning.
The same is true here in Fairfield, where voters approved Measure P, a 1 percent sales tax increase that also expires in five years. Measure P will generate somewhere between $12 million and $13 million a year, more than enough to cover a projected general fund deficit of approximately $7.75 million for the coming fiscal year.
Councilwoman Catherine Moy and Councilman John Mraz, in a joint column published in the Daily Republic, pledged that the city would “continue to operate” in a fiscally conservative manner, even with the infusion of Measure P money.
Residents in Vacaville will help determine how that city’s new tax money will be spent. A citizen oversight committee will watch over Measure P spending in Fairfield.
Voters granted our cities some financial relief. It’s incumbent on our city leaders to do their part to ensure that these new taxes are indeed temporary in nature. That means attacking spending with a sharp pencil, and making some tough, yet necessary, decisions about employee compensation and benefits.
If they do so, they will have earned the trust we have shown in them.