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Living in San Carlos February 27, 2008

San Carlos to Consider Adding New Taxes

by Chuck Gillooley

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If you were in attendance at the mayor’s State of the City address last week, or read the summary of Mayor Brad Lewis’ speech, it’s pretty evident he is in favor of levying additional taxes as a way to battle the City’s upcoming budget woes. In fact, the Council was due to meet last night to decide on taxing certain utilities (read more in this article in the Redwood City Daily News —> City to Add New Taxes) as one possible method.

In the Mayor’s address, he likens paying taxes to “eating vegetables”; not your favorite thing to do, but it’s necessary for your well being. I’m OK with the analogy and possibility of paying new taxes (and I actually like most vegetables.) Brad Lewis is a arguably one of the smartest Mayors that we’ve had in a long time — he truly gets the “big picture” of what makes San Carlos a great city, and what it’s going to take to keep it that way. I voted for him, and I trust his judgement. As a resident of San Carlos for the past 18 years, I don’t have a problem kicking in extra money — we all need to shoulder some of the burden to live in such a great city. My colleague Bob Bredel makes an eloquent point of this in his San Carlos Blog.

That being said, if the City of San Carlos is now going to require us to “eat our veggies,” let’s make sure we get some good veggies for our tax dollars — in other words, the City desperately needs to improve its track record on expenditures. Here’s a couple of examples of some bad veggies we’ve been forced to eat lately:

  • “The Industrial Road Beautification Project.” Doesn’t the title alone make it a winner in the Oxymoron Hall of Fame? How many millions of badly needed tax dollars did we pour down the sewer to beautify a street called Industrial Road??? Somebody certainly benefited from this project, but it wasn’t the citizens of San Carlos. While the South County Fire District went without a contract for years and held itself together with bailing wire, we found it more important to repave a road that didn’t need it.
  • Committee to Review the Subcommittee.” The best example of this bad salad was the recent endless hearings on our athletic fields. Because of a vocal minority that opposes upgrading certain fields to all-weather turf, the city has paid countless dollars for consultants to review the work of other consultants who already approved the upgrade…At the end of the day, we paid tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to have experts tell us what we already knew, and our fields are still in horrible shape. Consultants love the City of Good Subsidies, and the gopher who is terrorizing Heather field got the last laugh.

Not all the decisions have been bad, obviously. Laurel Street is a smashing success, no small thanks to smart planning by the Council, and the City continually strives to attract new businesses to our downtown and industrial areas.

So if we’re going to be forced to eat more veggies, I think the citizens of San Carlos prefer Town Restaurant’s Warm Napa Cabbage Salad over some of the cold brussel sprouts we’ve had to stomach in the past.

UPDATE: In the Tuesday 5/26 meeting, the Council voted 5-0 to hire a consultant “to look into the idea…” Ugh….I thought we were tight on money???
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