By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Stanton’s utility user fee increase from 5 percent to a proposed 11 .9 percent may hitting the ballot this June, as city officials discussed potential further action at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The proposed increase would come as a means to help stabilize the city’s finances, which is suffering a $3 million structural deficit due to the economic downturn and state budget woes.
As the state either cuts funding or takes away city income, little is left for the basic needs that the city requires to function.
The increase will be a voter item for the summer and the city will start conducting the process in which to get public opinion polls underway soon.
David Shawver, mayor pro tem, proposed eliminating the title of “User Fees” and re-creating it as a “Public Protection Tax” in which an ordinance would designate the money solely to fund police and fire contract services in the city, which require close to 70 percent of the annual budget.
“If we don’t raise money for this, we don’t make it [as a city],” said Shawver.
Council member Brian Donahue did not agree to the idea of a fee increase being restructured as a sole function fund. As a specified ordinance tax, it would require a two thirds majority vote, which is harder to acquire.
Council member Al Ethans said that it doesn’t matter what form it comes in, a serious increase is still an increase and is something that voters may not go for in tough times.
“All they [city residents] would see is a tax increase, regardless of what you call it,” said Ethans.
Also, present city council members Shawver, Ethans and Brian Donahue voted to name the city of Stanton as the successor agency to oversee the transition as the Redevelopment Agency is phased out as a result of state legislation and court rulings
The RDA is the city body which collects tax in the city for use in city maintenance, public projects, building and upkeep.
The funds within the Stanton RDA to be taken by the state total at $12.2 million and as a result will have city employee layoffs and the halt of projects.