Originally posted at CityWatch LA.
By Jack Humphreville.
Our City’s major streets are the worst in the nation according to a recent study by TRIP, a Washington, DC nonprofit research organization that focuses on highway transportation issues.
But this self-inflicted crisis represents an “opportunity” for our financially irresponsible City Council to “persuade” two-thirds of the City’s voters to approve a $3 billion bond measure that will be placed on the November 4, 2014 ballot. These funds will be used over the next ten years to repair the one-third of our streets that are in a failed or near failed condition.
This ballot measure would also include a controversial tax increase of $4.5 billion over the next 30 years to pay interest and to repay the loans.
But the efforts of City Hall to hold our streets hostage in return for a massive tax increase will fail as the voters do not trust the Herb Wesson led City Council and their self interested cronies.
In March, only four months after 70% of the City’s voters approved Governor Brown’s $6 billion tax increase, 55% of the City’s voters rejected Proposition A, a $200 million permanent increase in our sales tax. This was in the face of threats to lay off 500 cops, a scare tactic that was blasted over the airwaves with the help of almost $2 million in campaign contributions from real estate developers, public unions, billboard companies, and other City Hall supplicants.
But it turned out that Herb Wesson and the proponents of Proposition A were lying to us about the City’s finances. A month after the election, almost $400 million in additional revenue and pension savings magically appeared in Mayor Villaraigosa’s final budget, twice the amount of the proposed sales tax increase.
Rather than go through a bruising election campaign trying to get two-thirds of the voters to approve a $3 billion bond measure and a $4.5 billion tax increase, the City Council should place the bond measure on the ballot without any tax increase.
While the City will scream and holler that they need more of our money, the truth is that the City’s revenues are increasing at significantly greater rate than the amounts needed to pay interest and principal. For example, in five years, the growth in City revenues of almost $600 million will dwarf the bonds’ debt service requirements of $100 to $125 million by almost five to six times, a difference of almost $500 million.
Rather, the City wants to increase our taxes so it can used the “freed up” funds to finance additional increases in salaries, benefits, and pensions; the gradual elimination of the $470 million business tax; tax breaks for wealthy developers such as the $64 billion Westfield Group; $1 a year leases for political cronies; and numerous below the radar screen pet projects.
Before the City considers increasing our taxes, it needs to demonstrate that it is being a responsible steward of our hard earned money. This includes reviewing the efficiency of its many departments, the effective management of its 32,000 employees, and supporting structural changes that require the City to LIVE WITHIN ITS MEANS.
Now is the time for Mayor and the City Council to stop scheming over how they are going to pick our pockets and focus on how they are going to use the City’s record revenues to repair our lunar cratered streets.