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Citizen About Town

Citizen About Town

By Nancy C. Arcuri, Editor and Publisher

E-mail: nancyarcuri@thecitizensvoice.net

During the July 18th Monterey Park City Council Meeting Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian raised her concerns that the city needs additional funds to meet our retirement and insurance liabilities for our retired personnel as well as for capital improvement projects, safety equipment for emergency service and to help pay for the library collections and public access computers.

She suggested that Council place a ballot amendment for our November 2018 election requesting the voters determine it they want to increase our sales taxes by 3/4 % to help increase our city’s income and prevent Los Angeles County from taking more of our sale taxes for their benefit.

The measure would have a 10-year sunset clause.

Currently records show that Monterey Park collects $66,500,000 in total sales taxes a year using our 9.50% sales tax fee.  These funds are paid to the county.  Monterey Park only receives $7,000,000 or 1% back from the county that is placed in our general fund.

Based on our current law the maximum sales tax cannot exceed 10.25% in Los Angeles County.

Councilmember Real Sebastian expressed her concern that the county may demand more money for their projects that may not benefit us in our hometown. She would prefer to have the additional $4,000,000 in sales taxes now instead letting the county take them from our city.

She was also concerned that our hotel (bed) tax of 12% per night for our upcoming hotels will not generate enough taxes to offset our city’s expenses.

The hotel tax can only be collected from guests who stay less than 30 days per law.  After 30 days the guests are considered residents of the city.

Councilmember Real Sebastian stated her concerns that our employees’ pensions costs have a shortfall that is supplement by our general funds.

The Greater Chamber of Monterey Park sent in a letter regarding their concerns if the sales tax is raised to more than 10% they could not support the ballot measure. It could force some businesses to move out of town and the city would lose more sale tax.

Councilmember Real Sebastian stated the Market Place should provide new sales taxes and new real estate taxes to our city. She said that money is necessary for a good quality of life.

Our Council needs to support our city services with more sales taxes. She asked the Council to let the residents vote on it since the residents are required to make up the difference on the pension shortfall.

Councilmember Hans Liang agreed we need to address the issue of limited funds. He said 3/4% increase in our sales tax might not be a good deal for us. This sales tax will make it more expensive to live in Monterey Park. The hotels are shaped by taxes. Big-ticket items are more expensive. It may not be a good deal since it will cost us $100,000 to put this measure on the ballot. We could not get $25 a year for the library. We may not get the 3/4% sales taxes. Why rush into this deal?

City Attorney Mark Hensley said any tax increase must be voted on by the residents per our laws.

Councilmember Liang said we need to be protected from another taxing agency taking our money.  He cannot support this measure at this time. Keep our 9.50% sales tax at this time.

Mayor Pro Tem Peter Chan said it is a difficult topic. He spoke to business owners in the city. The increase in the tax will cut into the businesses. Residents are uneasy with a sales tax increase.  The city needs money to keep up their services. We need to provide quality services to our residents. He thanked his fellow members for their ideas. We need to provide quality services to our residents. More businesses are moving into the city and the hotels will be opened this year and next year.  He is looking for more resources. Taxes are not a good idea. He is happy with our lower sales taxes. Lets try other ways to increase our income in the commercial area. We need to keep our sales taxes the same. We welcome new ideas—not new sales taxes.

Councilmember Mitch Ing said everyone is right. The city is running out of money with higher pensions. He thanked Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian for her research. The county could increase the sales taxes to 10.25%. It may not pass by 2/3rds of the voters. We need to educate the residents. A tax will impact the residents. They are sharing ideas for a possible sales tax increase. Garvey needs to be revitalized in the future. It will take time. We need quality growth. That approach needs to be handled. We need ideas to help increase our income to support our services. Costco had the best grand opening. That project took more the 20 years. Garvey and Garfield is the center of town. There is a lot we can do at that location. The Market Place is our major shopping center.

Mayor Stephen Lam thanked Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian for discussing this issue. He thanked our American ancestors for our country. He spoke to business owners and they did not like the higher sales taxes. It will cost them business. Residents are not happy with a higher sales tax. It is not a good thing to do right now. Employees move around for higher salaries. We need to keep our employees here. We need to develop Garvey and Garfield. We need to build up since we don’t have the land with mixed use with parking spaces. Businesses want the city to help them increase their business. He cannot support it now.

Councilmember Real Sebastian stated the residents now know of the higher pension costs. We need to do it now. 50% of the Market Place income is already spent.

The Council did not agreed on this ballot measure so no action was taken.

Taxes are a double-edged sword. We need the money to provide services to the residents and businesses in our city, county, state and country.

Yet our United States of America revolted from England because of higher taxes on tea and other goods the King imposed on our 13 colonies on the East coast.

We live in free society but we pay taxes on our income, property, cars and sales taxes to our governments (city, county, state and federal).  In some states residents pay income taxes to their cities and personal property taxes on their furniture, jewelry, electronics and more.

I believe that our taxes do pay for our protection from dangerous people, acts of natures (fires, floods, earthquakes and more) as well as protecting us from invasions of foreign nationals who are trying to destroy our America.

The November 2018 elections will set the standards for our country. Will the liberal voters decide the fate of our lives? Or will the conservative voters decide the future of our America?

Currently the liberals are so busy telling lies about the conservatives that they seem to believe in the old adage “if you tell a lie long enough everyone will believe that it’s the truth.”

Currently the conservatives are very happy with the improvements in our lives with lower income taxes, not being forced to pay for the “Affordable Health Care Act” that was a ploy to force everyone in the United States to pay for this insurance even if they did not want to participate by penalizing them at the end of each tax year. A lower unemployment rate with many people being employed in good paying jobs including people considered minorities by our Federal government.

While we may not agree on how our country should be run we should respect the opinions of everyone.

If we don’t agree to disagree with respect then our America will be divided against itself like it was during the “Civil War”.

Definition of “A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region or to change government policies.”

I would hate to see our country destroyed by another Civil War between the liberal or socialist movement and the conservative movement.

Please study all of the ballot measures and your candidates’ history carefully before you vote to determine the fate and future of our America.

May God still bless and keep our America the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.

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