The city is asking residents to say which service cuts and new tax measures they can stomach in 2012.
Options include outsourcing law enforcement with the sheriff’s office and raising the sales tax.
It is estimated that at least $3.5 million in service reductions and/or revenue increase are needed over a five-year period ($700,000 annually), which started in 2008, to achieve financial stability in Pacifica.
In flyers mailed out in late 2011, the Financing City Services Task Force, which helps set budget policy in Pacifica, requested that residents fill out a survey, either on paper or electronically, indicating how much they like or dislike tax and cut options the task force is floating.
Residents can indicate on a five-point scale ranging from “support this option” to “oppose this option” how they feel about the task force’s ideas. They can also supply their own options in written form.
Public input is part of the ongoing process whereby the task force continues to try to fill a $3.5 million hole in Pacifica’s budget, meaning that through a mixture of revenue measures and service cuts, the city will need to save $700,000 each year during the five-year term.
The public will also have a chance to learn more about the various cuts and revenue measures at an open house called “Budget Cuts are Imminent & City Services will Change” on Jan. 11 at 6:30p.m. in the .
The cuts, taxes and fee proposals come in addition to about made in 2011 and after the defeat of another revenue measure—the failed .
Some of the service cut options include reducing local library hours, reducing or eliminating senior services and the whopper: contracting with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement in town and terminating the .
Some of the places where the task force believes it can make money, through fees and tax measures, include:
- A restructuring and/or an increase in the annual cost of a Pacifica business license;
- Applying the transient occupancy tax (TOT), or hotel tax, on vacation rentals in town;
- A one- or half-cent increase to the local sales tax;
- A restructuring of the utility users tax to include not just gas and electricity but also telecommunications;
- Levying a parcel tax similar to by the ;
- Increasing the rent at city-owned properties, such as the Sanchez Art Center;
- And collecting a $50-per-vehicle towing fee through the Pacifica Police Department;
In the survey, available online, the task force has outlined some pros and cons for each option and how much money each would generate or save.
For service cuts, outsourcing law enforcement far eclipses the other cut options in terms of dollars saved, but the impacts of no longer having a local police department could be great.
The task force estimates that it would save the city $1.5 million annually. If the city were to keep the police force and make all of the other cuts that the task force put in its survey, it would save under half that amount: $688,205.
The task force lists the cons of this move as a “loss of local control of services and identity with the community. Potential loss of jobs for current employees of the department. The City loses the ability to directly control the service level and the cost of the service. The knowledge that officers have about Pacifica may be lost. Significant costs (approximately $2 million) to reestablish local department if a decision was ever made in the future to return to a local department.”
In terms of revenue options, the big ones are the increase to sales tax by one cent, which would generate an additional $1.7 million, the utility users tax, which is estimated to bring in $800,000 a year and the parcel tax, which could bring in $1.2 million annually.
To fill out your survey, head to the city’s website. You can submit it electronically, via email or via snail mail. Submissions must be made before Jan. 20.
The various cut and revenue options will be explored at the Jan. 11 meeting, and the public will have a chance to weigh in there, too.