Binh H. Nguyen 4 p.m., June 30
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California State Gas Tax Increasing July 1st While Current Gas Taxes Wasted By City Governments
The first thing a Californian notices when they travel out of state is that the fuel prices drop as soon as they cross the border. Currently fuel prices run $3.50- $3.60/gal in California, $3.27 in Nevada, and $3.00 in Arizona. Why is fuel higher in Cali? Because we have additional state taxes attached to the price of our fuel.
The 1st fuel tax in California was established in 1923 at $.02/gal to fund the state highway system. In 1963 fuel tax increased to $.07/gal with $.05 going to counties. In 1983 state gas tax was raised to $.09/gal
In 1990 the state raised gas tax to $.14/gal to 'reduce traffic congestion & expand public transportation' (sin tax) and by 1994 gas tax was $.18/gal with the excuse of rebuilding after the Northridge earthquake.
State Gas Tax is only to be used for 'transportation-related needs'. In 2004 voters realized the gas tax money was not being used for the attended purposes and enacted Prop 42 to limit use of funds for 'nontransportation-related needs'.
Part of the State requirements for gas tax revenue is that the cities must have separate funds established to track the money. Beaumont uses 'Fund 3', but the account is in such disarray it is of little value use as a reference. From July, 2010 to January, 2013 the Bank Statements show that the City of Beaumont has received $2,912,551.98 in gas tax funds, but the City only lists receiving $1,492,964.02 on the General Ledger.
In the last three years there is not one entry for any road-related work in Fund 3. The only expenses the City of Beaumont shows in Fund 3 is $86,333.00 for 'Administrative Overhead' and $363,018.56 paid to 'Urban Logic Consultants'.
Page 8 of the State Controller's 'Guidelines to Gas Tax Expenditures' states: “Overhead will only be allowed via an approved cost allocation plan or an equitable and auditable distribution of overhead to all departments.” The City can not claim overhead and consulting fees when there was no work performed.
Unfortunately the City of Beaumont is no different than ever other California city. Every City seems to be wasting the Gas Tax Funds instead of using the money for its intended purposes.
The City of Imperial Beach receives $2 Million/year from Gas Tax, but only $300,000 can be traced to items such as 'street signs' and 'asphalt patch'. The other $1.7 Million disappears. Although Citizens have made repeated requests, the City of Imperial Beach refuses to do any road repairs. Last year an alley was so deteriorated that the neighbors took it upon themselves to pay for gravel. The City's response was to fine the neighbors $1,000.00.
The City of La Habra Heights receives $200,000/yr from State Gas Tax, but the General Ledger shows only a few thousand can be traced back to road maintenance. $37,000/yr goes to wages & health care for unknown employees, Maricela Medina, and A.Q. Engineering Consultants who is listed under City Engineer'. There is no justification for any wages to be funneled through the La Habra Heights Gas Tax Fund.
General Ledger for the Fiscal Year 2011 shows La Habra Heights spent only $34,727.42 in additional expenses: $9,190.61 for 'Street Lights', and $8,800.00 to 'California Arborists', $1,157.64 to 'Zumar, Inc', $10,100.53 to the City of Santa Fe Springs, and $2,098.00 to a grant assistance company called 'Bucknam & Associates'.
Fiscal Year 2012 shows La Habra Heights spent $116,189.80 through the Gas Tax Fund, but $50,626.16 was paid the following Consultants: $27,083.66 to NBS, $18,980.00 to Winzler & Kelley, $1,650.00 to GHD Inc, and $1,300.00 to Harrell & Company.
The City of La Habra Heights also receives an additional $80,000/yr for transportation funding through Prop A & C, but the only expenses listed in this Fund are $8,66.63 for wages, $5,737.50 to Maricela Medina. The 'Dial A Ride' program is also operated through this Fund Account.
The current fuel tax rate is $.36/gal. In 2010 the decision to raise fuel taxes were taken from the Taxpayer and given to the California Board of Equalization. The Board has voted to raise gas taxes to $.395/gal on July 1, 2013. The excuse for the increase is “..a $157 Million shortfall in gas-tax revenue in fiscal 2012 and a 'projection' that California drivers will consume less.”
The Board of Equalization did not look to see if the current tax revenue money was spent wisely nor consider how the additional increase would impact the citizenry. Their only focus was want of money.
Taxes are collected for specific purposes, but when those purposes are not addressed by the tax increase the correct action would be to stop the taxes, not increase them.
Please contact your State Representatives to stop the additional Gas Tax taking effect on July 1, 2013 and the elimination of additional taxes given to local governments. If local funding is needed it can be voted on by the local voter.
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