If there was ever a time to speak out on city direction- it is right NOW.
Deficit-prone Oxnard has borrowed and borrowed and made some cuts to balance the budget in the past, often restoring the cuts later. Its overspending and poor management were catching up with it already. Then the COVID-19 lockdown hit, draining millions in tax revenues from hotel occupancy, sales, business licenses, development taxes and fees. Probably the enterprise funds for water, wastewater and environmental (trash) will be hurting too, because of people who are unable to pay their bills.
So, now it appears that Oxnard intends to solve the problem(s) by taxing and borrowing, plotting an enormous revenue trifecta, to bring about $77 million (seems like a lot more than the deficit) into the general fund via:
- Borrowing $30 million from enterprise funds– $10 million each from Water, Wastewater and Environmental Resource funds.
- Levying a additional $2.3 million public safety pensions tax on real estate (the so-called “Carman Override”), bringing the total to $15.5 million, which will affect not only property owners, but tenants, too.”for every $100,000 in assessed value, a property owner will pay $70.67 compared to $60.18 in FY 2019-20.” This means about $350-400 for the average home of $500-600,000 value, in addition to all other taxes already being paid.
- Jacking up the sales tax another 1 1/2% above the existing “Measure O” 1/2% add-on and base state tax rate, to raise another $45 million.
When we first started covering the Oxnard Council 7 years ago, the General Fund was about $100 million. But, the numbers have gone way up:
In addition, utility rates have been raised radically in recent years, with more coming, while state taxes are over the top. The state seizes a large share of local sales tax and real estate tax money, too. On top of all these are supplemental property taxes for school bonds and various administrative districts for landscaping, waterway maintenance, etc.
The city was already stealth planning a whopping 1 1/2% sales tax increase, which they sneaked onto the 10-15-19 council meeting by conveniently not even mentioning it on the agenda and burying it deep in a 700 page agenda supplement. It appears that they are laying the groundwork to put it on the November ballot.
At least the City Manager has been hacking away at financial black holes like the Performing Arts Center (outsourced now), Carnegie Museum (closed) and golf course (restructured, new operator).
But the City Manager and Housing Director are also proposing a new $34 million (you read that right) “navigation center” (a homeless shelter with services), with at least an additional $2 million operating budget. Public safety costs are going through the roof with seemingly no plan to check them. Major systems upgrades (badly needed) will cost millions more. We are told there is no more money for roads, even with huge new state taxes supposedly done for that.
While you may not regard the $30 million loan from the enterprise fund as a “tax,” just how do you think it can ever be repaid?
I hate to tell you this, Citizens, but no one on the Council has demonstrated any real desire to manage spending nor hold staff truly accountable for that, other than the seemingly annual fire drill to make emergency cuts and borrow more money. Almost everyone votes for any spending proposed. Please speak up at meetings, write letters, hold meetings, townhalls, debates and vote more judiciously than you (or most of you) have been, this November.
DATE: June 2, 2020 TO: City Council FROM: Kevin Riper, Chief Financial Officer, (805) 385-7475, [email protected] SUBJECT: Public Safety Property Tax Assessment FY 2020-21. RECOMMENDATION That the City Council adopts a resolution establishing the FY 2020-21 tax rates on property in the City of Oxnard for the payment of voter-approved obligations related to public safety […]
By George Miller Oxnard is now trying to solve years of fiscal mismanagement, poor negotiations and spending control with a huge $45 MILLION dollar annual sales tax increase. Without any warning and burying it deep in supplemental agenda materials, the Council/staff are attempting to wash away all the City’s financial problems with a […]