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:
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.
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