Monday, February 24, 2014

City campaign to increase Hayward's sales tax

Last week the Hayward City Council approved a contract amendment for political strategist Clifford Moss who's working toward the apparent goal of increasing the City’s sales tax. By doing so, a good $114,000 in consulting fees and an untold amount of staff costs will likely go to waste, as it's hard to believe Hayward voters will approve another tax.

It’s not that the proposed ½-cent increase is particularly steep; it’s the fact that we are facing the proverbial death by a thousand cuts. A little tax increase here, a special assessment there, mix in a bunch of new government fees, and we’re left choking on a long term financial burden for services we supposedly already fund by other means.

Aside from the usual property and sales taxes that fund essential services like police and fire fighting, we in Hayward have a special Emergency Facilities Tax and a 5.5-percent Utility Tax. Both of these are supposed to provide additional support to the City’s police and fire fighting capability. But somehow it's still not enough. So now, yet again, we are being asked to pony up even more.

But this won’t be the only sales tax proposal we'll face this year. According to a Contra Costa Times news article, the County Transportation Commission will be promoting an increase as well.

And have you reviewed your property tax bill lately? I have. In addition to my regular property tax, I have to pay over $300 for a dozen special assessments on my single family residence. This includes an assessment for “Mosquito Abatement,” “Mosquito Assess 2,” “Vector Control,” and “Vector Control B.” All of this begs the question: How many times do we have to pay for the very same thing?

Then of course there’s the government imposed fees on every bottled drink, every electronic screen, every stick of lumber, and every paper grocery bag just to name a few. And if those are not enough for you, don’t worry; there are plenty more on the way. Here are a couple you should be directing your immediate attention to:

Prior to last week’s meeting I sent a letter to the council members urging them to abandon this sales tax campaign to no avail; the item passed unanimously without discussion. Apparently, if this is to be nipped in the bud, the community as a whole is going to have to push-back and push-back hard. It’s time to get vocal and rally your neighbors and friends. Tell your Council members, and particularly those running for mayor, enough is enough; let’s live within our means and avoid an expensive campaign.