Editorial: Like clockwork, Hayward wants yet another tax increase

Even before the pandemic, Hayward’s city government was financially struggling. Now it’s in a world of hurt. It’s time for the city to stop spending beyond its means.

In the Nov. 3 election, voters should elect the four City Council candidates best equipped to tackle Hayward’s budget: incumbents Elisa Márquez, Mark Salinas and Francisco Zermeño, and Planning Commissioner Angela Andrews.

It’s also time for the City Council to stop trying to pile on new taxes every two years. Voters should reject Measure NN, the fourth tax increase in six years. The measure would raise the city’s hotel levy, formally called a transient occupancy tax, from 8.5% to 14%, a rate exceeded by only 17 cities in the state.

Elisa Márquez (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

No disrespect intended, but Hayward isn’t exactly a destination city. Raising the tax on hoteliers during the pandemic when travel is depressed is irresponsible. Making it a permanent hike with no sunset date for voter review is unacceptable.

Rather, the City Council should roll up its sleeves and structurally balance the budget. Even before the pandemic, forecasts showed $12 million-$18 million shortfalls in each of the next six years. Clearly, cuts are needed.

Unfortunately, Al Mendall, the council member strongest on city finances, is not seeking reelection. Nevertheless, there are 13 candidates seeking four council seats. It’s the largest field of candidates since 2004, when 13 also ran.

Mark Salinas (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Only seven of the candidates turned up to answer our questions. Of that group, those who best understand the city’s finances are:

  A taste of France without venturing too far

• Márquez, a probate court investigator appointed to the council in 2014 and elected to a full term in 2016.

• Salinas, a Chabot College history and sociology instructor finishing his second term on the council.

Francisco Zermeño (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

• Zermeño, a Chabot College professor of Spanish finishing his third term.

• Andrews, a Hayward Planning Commissioner and capital project manager for Contra Costa’s West County Wastewater District.

The other candidates who participated in our endorsement interview are Nestor Castillo, Darrelle Demps and Tom Ferreira.

Whoever is elected should work with the revenues the city has rather than going back to voters — again — for more.

In 2009, voters approved a 5.5% tax on utilities like electricity, gas, cable TV and telecommunications services. In 2014, they increased the sales tax by 0.5%, bringing the total today to 9.75%, among the top decile in the state.

Angela Andrews (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

In 2016, they approved a 15% tax on marijuana sales. In 2018, they raised the tax on property transfers to 0.96 percent of the sales price, the 10th highest rate in the state.

Now, with Measure NN, city leaders are looking to stick it to hotels and motels. Enough. What’s needed are elected officials willing to make tough choices, not pile on more taxes.

Related Articles

Editorial: Fremont mayor, council picks have needed financial acumen

Editorial: An easy call …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *