The results are in from a city survey that gauged respondents’ feelings about service cuts and revenue measures it is proposing for 2012.
After reviewing responses from over 1,500 residents, the Financing City Services Task Force on Wednesday unanimously voted to send a proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase to the Pacifica City Council.
If the council OKs the plan, a simple majority of voters would be needed to approve it on the June ballot.
If passed, the city estimates the tax increase annually could raise over $800,000 in revenue.
“I think the response is kind of mixed, but I think on the whole it was supportive of doing something to try and maintain city services,” said City Manager Stephen Rhodes.
The survey asked residents to rate a series of proposals that included:
- outsourcing law enforcement with the sheriff’s office
- reducing senior services
- raising the sales tax
- levying a flat parcel tax on property owners, on a five-point scale.
The task force planned to use the results to construct its 2012 budget, in which it must either cut services or increase revenue to fill Pacifica’s budget hole.
The city estimates that at least $3.5 million in service reductions and/or revenue increases are needed over a five-year period, beginning in 2008, to achieve financial stability in Pacifica.
Results on two proposals for a sales tax increase—one by a full cent and one by a half-cent—were mixed
- 38.8 percent opposed a one cent increase
- 8.3 percent somewhat opposed it
- 33.8 percent supported it
- 43 percent supported a half-cent increase
- 17.1 percent somewhat supported the proposal.
That was a green light for the Financing City Services Task Force.
The city estimates that a one-cent increase would raise $1.7 million annually and a half-cent increase would bag $865,000 in revenue each year.
City staff is also working with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to determine a more precise amount that the city could save by shuttering the .
However, a majority of residents seemed to somewhat oppose or definitely oppose the proposal, with 45.5 percent definitely opposing the proposal and 12 percent somewhat opposing it.
Rhodes said the move to get a more definite dollar amount from the sheriff’s office does not mean they are moving forward with the proposal, but are instead trying to address some of the anonymous comments residents made on their surveys.
“There were lots of comments saying it would be far easier to really evaluate that option if we had some real numbers,” he said.
On the survey, the city estimated that outsourcing law enforcement would save about $1.5 million annually.
In anonymous comments left by citizens, one said that the proposal was a "Wonderful idea!" while another suggested that the city "make it (the police department) leaner, but don't outsource the entire PD."
An opponent said that the proposal was "Absolutely crazy. Isn't our crime bad enough?"
Many respondents supported eliminating supervisory positions at the city when vacancies occur, with 59.6 percent definitely supporting and 21.7 percent somewhat supporting the proposal.
A majority supported or somewhat supported restructuring and/or increasing the annual cost of a Pacifica business license, which the city estimates would net it over $20,000 a year.
A majority of residents who took the survey opposed reducing senior programs, with 61.5 percent definitely opposing and 13.5 percent somewhat opposing the proposal. Even more opposed reducing the Meals on Wheels program in town, with 69.8 percent against and 13.5 percent somewhat against.
A slight majority of respondents supported extending the Transient Occupancy Tax, also known as the hotel tax, to vacation rentals in town. 51.8 percent of residents agreed, while 18.2 percent somewhat supported the proposal.
45.3 percent of respondents opposed cutting funding to the , which helps struggling Pacificans with their taxes, financial stability and provides food to families in need, and 15.2 percent somewhat opposed the proposal, making the majority against.
A majority of respondents supported (42.6 percent) or somewhat supported (17.3 percent) a proposal to reduce the amount the city spends to help fund the Pacifica Visitor Center in Rockaway, currently $10,000.
Many also supported (43.1 percent) or somewhat supported (15.5 percent) eliminating the $49,584 the city gives to Pacifica Community Television each year.
Most respondents opposed or somewhat opposed cutting 14 hours a week from local library hours.
Nearly half (48.2 percent) of respondents opposed a flat, $118 a year parcel tax, similar to the measure voters approved for the Pacifica School District that the city estimates would raise $1.2 million a year.
One respondent who opposed the parcel tax said, "I just can't pay anymore...I have reached my limit."
For more survey results, see the PDF in the gallery to the right.