Background photo by C.E.H. Wiedel. City seal courtesy of the City of Los Alamitos.

Los Alamitos Council votes to place vital sales tax measure on November ballot

At its regular meeting on Monday, July 20, the Los Alamitos City Council voted unanimously to place a 1½¢ sales tax measure on the November ballot.

The vote came after a lengthy staff report recapitulating actions taken and information gathered by staff since the Council Budget subcommittee was instituted to address the real concern that the City would run out of money if nothing was done to increase revenue. Councilmembers Shelley Hasselbrink and Marc Chirco serve on the Budget subcommittee.

According to the staff report on the proposal:

Due to significant strains placed upon the City’s finances by outside forces, the City is currently facing a significant structural budget deficit. These challenges have resulted in projected structural shortfalls growing from $1.6M in 2021-22 to over $3.4M in 2027-28 and approximately $3.7M by 2030. Recognizing that the City would need to take extraordinary measures in order to mitigate these projected deficits and loss of existing reserves, the City Council took the proactive step of developing a plan to focus on building future fiscal sustainability for the City of Los Alamitos

The staff report covered possible alternatives ranging from doing nothing to adopting a parcel tax to increasing the utility user and hotel bed taxes. All the alternatives had drawbacks, from requiring huge ongoing payments from residents to not actually generating enough new revenue to close the gap.

Additionally, the staff report showed persistent and steadfast efforts to cut costs, including personnel cutbacks that City Manager Chet Simmons emphasized could simply not be sustained. Current staff wear multiple hats, and some City departments consist of a single person. Additionally, staff salaries were cut by 5%.

With the approval to place the measure on the November ballot, staff also received the go-ahead to inform the public of what is at stake. Although to this point City services have been maintained, services will have to be eliminated if revenue cannot be enhanced.

Hence the sales tax.

Possible November ballot confusion

This will be the first election in Los Alamitos that will feature Council districts forced on the City by a threatened lawsuit. The terms of the districting require that Council members live in the District that they represent.

The so-called Green district map was adopted by the Los Alamitos City Council on July 30, 2018. The general election in November 2020 was the first under the new voting districts. Only Districts 1 and 3 elected representatives.
The so-called Green district map was adopted by the Los Alamitos City Council on July 30, 2018. The general election in November 2020 was the first under the new voting districts. Only Districts 1 and 3 elected representatives.

Before Monday’s meeting, if all sitting Council members were to run, three would be running against one another in District 1. However, current Mayor Richard Murphy announced at the meeting that he would not run for re-election, so that reduces the number to two sitting Council members — Tanya Doby and Dean Grose — plus anyone else who files to run in District 1.

In 2018, residents of Los Alamitos voted for four seats in the last Council election prior to enforced districts. The winners were Marc Chirco, Shelley Hasselbrink, Warren Kusumoto, and Dean Grose.

However, Warren Kusumoto resigned his seat at the end of 2019 to accept a job transfer. Tanya Doby was selected to serve out Warren’s term.

If they each file to run, Marc Chirco would run in District 5 and Shelley Hasselbrink in District 4. Districts 2 and 3 currently have no incumbent Council member.

As of the date of this article, only two candidates have pulled papers to run:

  • Dean Grose – District 1
  • Ron Bates – District 2

2 Comments

  1. There’s many more shopping alternatives in Cypress, so that’s where I will go if this passes. As it is, most of my shopping is by Rossmoor, but IN Seal Beach.

    1. Author

      MB,

      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to comment on this article.

      A little more background on sales and use tax may be called for.

      The statewide minimum sales tax is 7.25%. Without special enabling legislation, the maximum rate is 10.25%.

      In Orange County, Measure M adds another 0.5% to pay for transportation infrastructure. That means, countywide, the least sales tax rate is currently 7.75%.

      Other communities surrounding Los Alamitos have varying rates depending on whether the locality has added to the base rate:

      • Anaheim – 7.75%
      • Buena Park – 7.75%
      • Cerritos – 9.5%
      • Cypress – 7.75%
      • Garden Grove – 8.75%
      • Huntington Beach – 7.75%
      • Long Beach – 10.25%
      • Los Alamitos – 7.75% currently, would rise to 9.25% if city measure approved in November
      • Rossmoor – 7.75%, unincorporated community not part of Los Alamitos
      • Seal Beach – 8.75%
      • Stanton – 8.75%
      • Westminster – 8.75%

      The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration has an online tool to find out what the local sales tax rate is.

      Many local communities have found themselves forced into raising their sales tax as the State of California has pilfered local revenue over the last decade. The State must shoulder substantial blame for the perilous condition of local budgets. That means the State Legislature and, indeed, the State’s voters — who have been remarkably slack at holding the State accountable.

      Apparently, State Legislators and a majority of voters want all kinds of goodies guaranteed by the State and they don’t care if it runs people out of business, or out-of-state, or into bankruptcy or dependency on State handouts.

      Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Stay safe, stay healthy!

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

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