I am writing this letter on behalf of the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce and its Board of Directors.
You may have already heard of Measure U. This is a proposed temporary sales tax to fund our city services. This would be a half percent sales tax and would be in place for only eight years. This means that when you shop in Scotts Valley, $0.50 of every $100 spent would go towards this tax.
The City of Scotts Valley has traditionally been a low tax city. When compared to the rest of the county this is unique. Cities such as Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Watsonville all have a permanent additional sales tax.
As you may recall, the previous temporary sales tax, Measure C, reached its sunset in 2011. When it was conceived, the intent was for it to be a temporary measure as well. Unfortunately, two unforeseen things have occurred since then. The first, and most obvious, was the recession. The other major blow to our city budget has been the elimination of redevelopment agencies by the state of California. As a result of the loss of these essential revenues, Scotts Valley's general fund will no longer be able to meet the needs of its community.
Our city has already been running on a bare bones budget. The City has reduced the number of employees by 21-percent (16 employees) over the past 10 years through a hiring freeze and elimination of positions. This means several employees are now handling two jobs at the City.
The City has also instituted a work furlough of one day per month where employees do not work and are not paid for that day. To quote our Mayor, Randy Johnson: "New taxes are never a first option with this council but with what the state of California takes from the city each year, keeping our core services intact has become more challenging. We will continue to spend tax dollars wisely on what matters most to people: police, roads, and recreation for our young people".
Whether you are a lifelong resident or have only recently moved here, I think we can all agree on one thing; Scotts Valley is a very special place to live. When compared to the rest of the Santa Cruz County, one might even call it an oasis. While other parts of the county struggle with some of the worst crime statistics in the state, Scotts Valley remains a safe place to live with a police response time of less than three minutes. We have facilities and programs for our seniors. We have beautiful parks to enjoy with our families and recreational programs for our children. Aside from the people themselves, these are among the very things that make Scotts Valley such a wonderful place to live and do business.
Make no mistake, the situation is dire. This is an emergency. Without this temporary measure to supplement the general fund, everything we hold dear and sacred about our community is in peril.
Even our business community is in full support of Measure U. The Board of Directors for the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce has unanimously endorsed Measure U. We also put the word out to our business members to see if there was any opposition to this endorsement. There were zero objections.
So when you vote on November 5, the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce asks that you join us and vote “yes” on Measure U.
- Danny Reber is the President of the Board of Directors for the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce