By Galen Patterson
The three-quarter cent sales tax hike that may just be what Arcadia needs
During a City Council meeting, the council voted to put a measure on this year’s ballot that would raise sales tax in Arcadia by three-quarters of a percent.
Known as Measure A, the tax increase is expected to help pull Arcadia out of an economic downward spiral.
Arcadia declared a state of fiscal emergency, following a detailed report compiled by the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC).
CFAC was organized to review the city’s finances and make recommendations as to how Arcadia can close its current funding gap.
Arcadia is currently operating at a multi-million dollar deficit. A pro-Measure A website cites the deficit at $3.1 million, but according to City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto, the deficit has gotten worse since the report was published and is around $5 million now.
The three-quarter cent sales tax is a plan to generate around $8 million for the city annually.
The sales tax would effectively take three-quarters of each cent spent in the city and add it to the city’s income.
Measure A is designed to ensure that money spent in Arcadia stays in Arcadia and is used for Arcadia, which directly benefits the city because of the regional draw the city has with unique attractions like the LA County Arboretum, Westfield Mall, and Santa Anita Racetrack.
California State Law allows for up to 10.25 percent sales tax. Currently Arcadia is operating at 9.5 percent. Until recently, “We’ve always been able to live within our means,” said City Manager Lazzaretto, indicating that Arcadia had previously kept taxes as low as it could, but now things are different.
One of the main contributing factors to the city’s deficit is pensions to retired city employees.
The city has limited options to resolve the financial emergency. Other solutions include raising residential taxes, effectively placing the deficit burden on Arcadians, or a more severe plan that is currently being considered which will cut 12 to 13 percent of all departments within the city – meaning job losses, less police officers and firefighters and a weakened local government – which would be enacted slowly over the course of 3 years.
City Manager Lazzaretto says there are no other plans being considered.
Voting yes on Measure A in June means that the burden of fixing the funding gap will be shared by all of those who come to spend money in Arcadia.
Voting no could force the council into plans that may negatively impact Arcadians more directly.
Brian Ursettie, president of the Arcadia Firefighter’s Association is supporting the tax increase. Ursettie participates in the campaign to help spread awareness of its importance.
He recently helped pass the same measure in Glendora and wants to help Arcadia do the same. Working with a team of individuals, Ursettie has helped organize walking campaigns to canvas areas of Arcadia and helps Arcadians understand how high the stakes are, and what they can do to help fix it.
The weekends of the 27 and 28 of April, on Saturday and Sunday, Ursettie and his team will be hosting the next walk, and again on the weekend after, May 4 and 5. Volunteers get a free t-shirt and should meet by the peacock fountain at Arcadia County Park at 8:30 a.m., Saturday or Sunday.