The following letter to the editor was published in the El Segundo Herald newspaper (HeraldPublications.com) on Thursday, January 12, 2012 in the Letters section on page 2. The El Segundo Herald has a strict 250-word limit, including the title.
Tax Increase Could Be Potential Blank Check
As a lifelong resident and former mayor of El Segundo, I find the recent City Council decision to pursue a ballot measure to increase taxes on “refineries” extremely troubling, for a number of reasons.
First, the process was utterly lacking in transparency, in that the City Manager’s analysis and subsequent last-minute agendizing of the proposal was apparently initiated without all the Councilmembers’ knowledge.
Second, Chevron the sole target of the proposed tax increase was not informed until after the fact and had no opportunity to provide input or data that might have enhanced the City Manager’s understanding and assessment of the substantial combined revenues the company already provides the city.
Third, no input was solicited from citizens, relevant City committees, key community organizations or Chevron itself.
Fourth, the revenues from a general tax would go not for specific infrastructure projects, as implied, but to the City’s general fund. In other words, should the Council proceed with putting this tax before voters it will be based on conclusions reached in a vacuum, in the privacy of the City Manager’s office. It could provide this and future Councils with a virtual blank check that could be spent on anything they wish, such as higher salaries and pension benefits for city employees. And the Council is attempting to rush the whole thing through in less than a month’s time. This is not only irresponsible; it’s disrespectful to voters and taxpayers, and to our city’s oldest business.
The people of El Segundo deserve better.