Chula Vista voters will decide in November on the fundamental issue of whether they trust their city government to spend money on what it says it will. Measure P proposes to raise the sales tax in Chula Vista by one-half cent for the next 10 years, with the intention that the city will use the tax revenues to repair public infrastructure like roads or police cars. But Maya Srikrishnan reports the tax revenues gained from Measure P would actually go into the city’s general fund, and could be used for any legal purpose regardless of its relation to public infrastructure. “The city estimates the measure will generate roughly $16 million in the first year and $176 million over 10 years,” Srikrishnan reports.
To raise taxes for earmarked projects, cities must win the votes of a much larger percentage of the electorate than for a tax increase that goes to the general fund. Chula Vista leaders, like leaders in other cities, instead seek to pass tax increases on a straight majority vote and ask voters to trust city leaders to spend the money on promised projects, even though there’s no legal requirement for them to do it. Mayor Mary Salas said if Measure P passes, “opponents and supporters of the measure alike will watch like hawks how the revenue is used.”
Water District Sinking Under Cheap Rates
The Vallecitos Water District serves neighborhoods in and around San Marcos in North County. Recently the district has been on a spending spree, drawing down its ample savings in order to stay afloat while it sells water to its customers at prices lower than what the district paid to get it. Ry Rivard reports the district this year purchased units of water at $40.32 each, but sold them for $38.72 each. Multiply that loss to cover the entire district a you have a district leaking, or perhaps even gushing public money.
“Several people suggest some board members are only keeping rates low to look good as they approach Election Day,” Rivard reports. Candidates for the board are using the loss or the threat of higher prices for ratepayers as a wedge to get voter attention. “This is going to bite us in the backside,” said outgoing board member Jim Hernandez.
• San Diego’s got its own water plans in action. The City Council this week surged forward with plans to convert sewage to drinking water, and also made some choices that bring down taxpayer and environmental costs. “The council approved plans to begin recycling 30 million gallons a day of sewage into drinking water by 2021,” the Union-Tribune’s David Garrick reports.
The Spanoses: San Diego Explained
The Spanos family is famous in San Diego for its majority ownership of the Chargers football team. But the family’s 93 year-old patriarch had much humbler beginnings, tracing back to 1951 and selling food and board to Mexican immigrants who were coming into America to work the farms. By the mid-1980s, Spanos had converted his success selling basic services to immigrant workers into ownership of valuable real estate and a sports team. Ry Rivard and NBC 7’s Monica Dean dig into the history of one of San Diego’s celebrity families in our most recent San Diego Explained.