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Laurene Weste: Save our local coffers

Posted: October 30, 2010 8:48 p.m.
Updated: October 31, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

While there are numerous propositions on the ballot this November, perhaps none is as important to local government as Proposition 22, the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Act of 2010.

If passed, Proposition 22, which has been unanimously supported by Santa Clarita City Council, will help protect cities and counties from the state’s continual raid of local government funding.

California voters have overwhelmingly passed measures in previous elections to restrict state raids of local government funds, as well as to dedicate gasoline taxes to transportation and public transit improvements and services.

Despite this, the state has exploited loopholes in the law and used legally questionable tactics to borrow and raid approximately $5 billion in local government transit and redevelopment funds in the FY 2009-10 budget cycle and billions more in past years.

Hundreds of cities throughout California have been forced to cut police, fire, emergency 911, parks, libraries, road improvements and other services in the last few years. The state’s continual reliance on local government funds directly impacts your local government’s ability to provide necessary infrastructure projects and programs.

According to the League of California Cities, the state Legislature borrowed $3 million in property taxes from the city of Santa Clarita during the 2009-10 fiscal year.

These are funds that our city could be using to build new parks, trails, recreation facilities and roadway improvements.

In addition, the state took another $1.13 million from the Santa Clarita Redevelopment Agency in the 2009/2010 fiscal year and plans to take another $233,174 from the Redevelopment Agency in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Coupled with the downturn in the economy, state raids and borrowing of local funds are contributing to severe cutbacks in cities across the state, often resulting in cutbacks to local police and fire, parks, libraries, street and road repair, public transit and other important local services.

Passing Proposition 22 will stop state raids of local government funds and protect local public safety, emergency response and other local services from further devastating cuts. This would force the state to do what cities do: live within its means.

Yes on 22 will:

n Stop the state from taking or borrowing local tax dollars dedicated to cities, counties and special districts to fund vital local services like 911 response and police and fire protection;

n Stop the state from taking or diverting gas taxes we pay at the pump that voters have dedicated to local road repairs, transportation improvements and public transportation.

Prop. 22 is supported by a coalition of local governments, transportation advocates, business, labor, public safety and others working to stop state raids of local funds in California.

Your support of this important proposition is greatly appreciated.

Laurene Weste is mayor of Santa Clarita. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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