Another day, another Chula Vista City Council budget meeting. Over the past three months, the city’s held meeting after meeting trying to resolve a $4 million deficit for this fiscal year and a $20 million projected deficit for next fiscal year. So far, the city is proposing 166 layoffs, closure of recreation centers, shuttering libraries, and closing the South Bay’s Chula Vista Nature Center to bridge the financial gap.
At the January 6 budget meeting, 25 speakers begged the council to save the Nature Center, while a half dozen citizens protested the closure of the Eastlake Library and others pleaded with the council to increase the sales tax by 1 cent to help the city’s ongoing structural deficit, and to save the Nature Center and prevent the closure of any of the city’s libraries.
To drive home the need for the increase, Councilmember Rudy Ramirez invited next-door neighbor, National City Mayor Ron Morrison, over to chat about the benefits of the tax hike. Last election, National City’s electorate voted to keep the tax for another eight years.
Before Mayor Morrison spoke, Ramirez played a news clip featuring Morrison and National City’s first year without a homicide in 44 years. Morrison attributed the homicide free year to the sales tax increase and the revenues from the tax increase going to new parks, more police and fire rescue and other capital improvements.
After the video, Morrison told the Chula Vista City Council all about the benefits of the tax hike. “I sympathize with the position you’re in, that your city is in. It was only a few years ago when we were looking at the same thing. Government needs to live within its means and we agreed with our citizens. We made the hard cuts. We needed to bring the community together and we needed to have revenue that we controlled and not the state, that’s when we went with our one-cent sales tax. But we had to bring the community together and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Morrison concluded his presentation in a neighborly way. “My heart goes out to you and the decisions you have to make. We are going to get to a much better ending if we all pull together instead of pulling apart, elected officials, staff, and citizens, together. From the city to the north we are here to help out anyway we can.”
Chula Vista City Council will determine if the city is in fact in a financial crisis at a special meeting at 6pm on January 8. Depending on the determination, the city might raise their sales tax, just like their good neighbor to the north.
For more, go to chulavistaca.gov.