Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Parcel tax dropped like hot potato

I guess asking voters to tax themselves while city employees enjoy relatively cushy benefits isn't something the Tracy City Council thinks is politically prudent.

The idea of asking voters to approve a new property tax to fully fund public safety surfaced more than a month ago, but it was indefinitely put on hold tonight.

Voters probably wouldn't have been keen on a self-imposed tax during a bitter recession in the first place. But after the Tracy Press published the pay and benefits of public safety and other city employees 1½ weeks ago, the tax idea was probably dead on arrival.

As I said in last week's column, when private businesses cut pay, benefits and jobs in an effort to stay afloat, taxpayers want to feel that those working on their tax dime are sharing the pain.

Whether that's sound policy or jealousy/vengeance probably depends on the eye of the beholder. What isn't open for debate is that the city cannot continue to bring in less in tax revenue than it spends on the police and fire departments alone.

Oh, as for the theory that someone "slipped" the pay and benefits info to the Press in an effort to poison public opinion at a critical juncture: It's rubbish.

The pay and benefit information was available as public record. In regards to the timing, it seems prudent to investigate what the city is really spending on its employees, seeing as how it's running a structural deficit, is poised for layoffs and was considering asking voters for more money.

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