Cities aim to thwart state's next money grab | January 15, 2010 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - January 15, 2010

Cities aim to thwart state's next money grab

by Daniel DeBolt

Last year, legislators in Sacramento, facing a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall, ordered California cities to cough up millions — $3 million over two years for Mountain View alone — to help them make up the difference.

This year the state once again faces a huge budget shortfall, currently estimated at $22 billion. But this time around the state's cities, including Mountain View, have decided to shore up their resources by proposing a constitutional amendment to protect them from any further money grabs by the state.

The League of California Cities is hoping to gather 650,000 signatures statewide by April 15 to place the amendment on the ballot, which is designed to address a real and imminent danger, say Mountain View city officials, that the state will again take money from them to balance its budget.

"The feeling is they will do anything they can to find money rather than do what's hard to do, which is raise taxes," said City Council member Mike Kasperzak, who is also second vice president of the League of California Cities.

With a looming state budget deficit, "They are going to have to get more creative than they have been," Kasperzak said. "The governor is talking about taking away the Prop. 42 gas tax. Part of that goes to cities for roads. He can abolish it and propose a different tax that goes to the state. They could take hotel taxes, utility taxes and redevelopment authority funds."

Mountain View, already facing an estimated $4 million budget deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1, may have to resort to employee layoffs after significantly cutting services last year.

To prevent the state from adding to the city's financial woes, the constitutional amendment would "prohibit the state from taking, borrowing or redirecting local taxpayer funds dedicated to public safety, emergency response and other vital local government services," which include public transportation, the ballot measure says. It also ensures "once and for all that our gas taxes go to fund road improvements." The full text can be read at

For their part in putting the constitutional amendment on the ballot, Kasperzak said, San Francisco and its neighboring cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties hope to gather 25,000 signatures by April 15 with the help of volunteers, and thousands more with paid signature gatherers. Those interested in helping the effort can email Rebecca Elliott at or look for a petition gatherer at the grocery store, post office or farmer's market.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at


Posted by Will Joseph, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 15, 2010 at 10:38 pm

If Sacramento wants the additional money, let them come to the people directly with tax hikes. This indirect tax strikes me as taxation without representation.

Posted by dfb, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Actually, it is taxation with representation. Our elected legislature and executive are responsible. In fact, our assembly member has an office on Castro Street, next to the appliance store if you're looking where to picket.

This money grab is more reason to reform or get rid of prop 13.

This happens because local governments no longer have control of revenues. Instead of local property taxes paying for services, cities and counties rely on the state sales tax for revenues. Those revenues are controlled by the state. This is a serious issue and will continue to be an issue, even with a Constitutional Amendment to protect the amount the state must dedicate to those purposes. Such is the case with the education proposition that forces the state to spend a set amount of the general fund for education.

Posted by evan, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 17, 2010 at 8:48 am

City, county, state, and federal government are all grabbing OUR money as taxpayers and returning very little to us. Take a look a the big three 150K plus salaries of our own city hall and tell me who is robbing who.

Posted by kimberley, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2010 at 11:41 am

Evan, you're right! It is ridiculous to have such high salaries plus pension of 15K/a month doing nothing! I think Californian executive and legislative structure have problems that need to be fixed ASAP. Year after year end up with a huge budget that results from these ridicules.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2010 at 11:55 am

Representatives at any level of government should be compensated in line with the median compensation of their constituents; thus, the incentive to promote the greater good. As it is, we've got hogs at the trough. We are by no means bound by these atrocious pension plans. They can and will be scrapped, economic necessity will force that, sooner than later.

Posted by dfb, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Evan, Kimberly, and Ben:

Don't like it? Time for you to run for city council and set things straight! :-)

Posted by kimberley, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

dfb, l.o.l, I wish I were a part of this city and could talk my voice. Our voice just fell on deaf ears, you know. Btw, it's not that simple and easy to run for a simple job at this city hall and set things straight as we wish!

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 20, 2010 at 1:53 am

dfb, the Bailey Savings & Loan is gone. This is Potterville. Frank Capra is dead.

Posted by kimberley, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:02 am

Old Ben, last night the NBC news said that JAP (Japan Airline) has just scrapped off a lot of their officials' high-over-the-sky pensions! The Japanese government ask them to do that and not allow them to declare bankruptcy. I think you may be right. In the future, it would be a new trend to scrape off too high pension.

Posted by Mike, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Not happy with the State grab of local revenues, then be sure to sign the petition to qualify the measure for the November election, and tell your friends to do the same.

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