He likes the idea of raising the transient occupancy tax if it were done for a specific purpose, such as to finance the convention center expansion. An increase in the sales tax (now 8.75 percent) would raise a lot of money, says Barnett, but could also meet resistance.
Bruvold thinks the City should look at a gross receipts tax, or a tax on businesses based on the revenue they generate within the jurisdiction, instead of on the number of employees they have (San Diego’s current system). San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland bring in much more money from business taxes than San Diego, Tevlin points out.
Henderson favors moves that would have to be made at a higher legal level. For example, if casino gambling were allowed statewide in establishments other than those owned by Native Americans, municipalities would rake in juicy tax revenue. Similarly, if drugs were legalized nationally, “That would create a huge source of revenue for states and municipalities,” he says. Also, there should be a national value added tax, or tax on each stage of manufacture or distribution. “Among other things, this would be the best way to tax internet sales,” he says. And that would be a matter of fairness as well as a great source of revenue.
But at the federal, state, and local levels, “Special-interest politics will not allow us to deal rationally with the problem,” he says. The public is damned.