PG Voters Reject Tax Package
Cuts to city-funded services will follow.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The mayor and city manager of Pacific Grove sit calmly at the Natural History Museum, as if the future of the city weren’t at stake – not, at least, as it relates to the tax package designed to plug PG’s budget hole. At this meeting of Sustainable Monterey County, the subjects at hand are of more global import: green building, biodiesel, solar power.
But standing outside after the meeting, Mayor Dan Cort returns to the subject of the election. He goes off about the anti-government attorney types who threaten to sue whenever the city tries to adopt new taxes. “Who the hell are you to say you don’t wanna pay taxes?” he asks rhetorically. “Don’t live here then! Go live in Antarctica!”
City Manager Jim Colangelo reconvenes at PG’s nearly empty Pelican Tavern. Televisions circumscribing the walls silently flash sports footage, commercials, CNN – but even after the bartender cues a local station, no sign of vote returns.
Colangelo predicts that Measure P, the parcel tax, will lose; and that O and Q, the business tax cap removal and the sales tax hike, will win. But the three measures are linked, by decree of the City Council and against Colangelo’s recommendation. If one goes down, they all go down. His gut tells him not to be optimistic.
With a $2 million dollar deficit, something’s gotta give. If it ain’t taxes or other measures to raise new revenue, it’s gotta be cuts.
The early results are in: Measure P is losing; Measures O and Q are likewise sinking.
Colangelo’s cell rings. It’s Cort. “Yeah… It’s bad, isn’t it? It’s bad,” Colangelo says.
The question to voters, Colangelo says, was “Cuts or services?” By rejecting the tax package, voters chose cuts: likely to the recreation department, museum and library. City staff may also revisit the proposals to install parking meters or impose an admissions tax on the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Either way, it means more flak for Colangelo and the sitting council.
“A lot of people think that because we’re the ones that exposed the problems, we’re the ones that caused the problems,” he says. “That’s OK. It’s not a popularity contest.”