Move comes as the city looks to add sales tax that would have city reach state threshold.
By Sam Catanzaro
Looking to extend a local sales tax that voters passed in 2012, Culver City lawmakers recently declared a state of fiscal emergency calling for a special election that could lead to Culver City reaching the maximum sales tax allowed under state law.
On October 28, 2019, Culver City City Council voted 5-0 to declare a state of fiscal emergency paving the way for a potential special election to extend a 1/2 percent sales tax approved by voters in 2012 known as Measure Y, set to expire in 2020. Funds from Measure Y stay in Culver City and cannot be used by Califonia.
While the council was unanimous in their declaration, other city officials expressed objection to the fact that City Council and staff did not give the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) an opportunity to review the declaration. According to Crystal Alexander, former City Treasurer and current FAC member, the committee was formed with the responsibility of overseeing Measure Y.
During the City Council meeting, Culver City’s Chief Financial Officer Onyx Jones ” fumbled around” attempting to explain why the item was brought before council without consulting the FAC, as reported by the Culver City Observer.
One of the driving forces behind a special election is an additional 1/4 cent tax the City of Culver City intends to put on the November 2020 ballot. According to City Manager John Nachbar, polling suggests voters may not support two taxes on the ballot.
If both the 1/2 percent sales tax and the 1/4 cent tax pass, Culver City would reach the threshold for sales tax permitted under California state law and would join 19 other cities in the state with the highest sales tax.
According to Vice Mayor Goran Eriksson, many of the city’s financial problems are related to overly generous health and pension plans. While Eriksson said he personally did not like the move, he supported the declaration which needed unanimous support to pass.
The Council did not discuss cutting costs during the October 28 meeting. According to Transparent California, Culver City has over 200 employees making over $100,000 annually before health and retirement benefits.