Jumat, 31 Juli 2009

State Steals Your Tax Money

Community Member Question:

With the state taking away City funds, what can we as residents do to help the City conserve funds?

City Manager Response:

Excellent question and very timely given the adoption of the State budget this week. Before I respond to your question, let me make a comment about the recent State theft of your tax money. Because the State has not been able to live within its means, it has reached into the pockets of Fontana to take money out of our community. The State will keep $2 million of your property tax payments this year (with a promise to pay us back in the future) as well as require the City’s Redevelopment Agency to write the State a check for another $35 million this year and an additional $7 million next year.

So what does that mean to the citizens of Fontana? It’s really quite simple. Since we have no other alternative than to live within our means, there will be $2 million less in the bank available to spend on services and critical community needs. The $35 million theft from Redevelopment means that critically needed traffic, storm drain and other infrastructure projects will have to be deferred or cancelled; fewer jobs will be created for our economy; increased expenses to develop; and, traffic problems will not be fixed.

Please remember, the City of Fontana is not a budgeted expense of the State of California. The City operates on its own revenue streams as a separate legal entity. This is not about cutting State spending, it is about stealing taxes paid in the City of Fontana that are intended to be used in the City of Fontana. Yes, we plan on joining the efforts to put forward a legal challenge regarding the Redevelopment theft, but even if we prevail in this effort, it will take the better part of a year to get a determination by the court. In the mean time, our community suffers.

So, what can the residents of Fontana do to help us conserve money? Certainly volunteering with the City or one of the various community groups is a wonderful and important way to help out. Cleaning up parks, reporting or cleaning up graffiti, volunteering with the Police Department, joining a neighborhood watch program, volunteering at the library, making a conscious effort to “Shop Fontana”, volunteering at a community or senior center, supporting your local businesses, and getting your animals spayed and neutered are all wonderful ways of reducing the strain on the resources needed to support this community.

It has been a tough year financially for the City. We have cut over 50 full-time jobs that included several layoffs. We have reduced spending across the board. All-in-all, we have cut spending by nearly $10 million while continuing to provide quality services to the community. We have worked very hard. This is why the new thefts by the State are particularly galling to me. I am frustrated, but I also remain optimistic about the future of this wonderful community. The Mayor and City Council have a clear vision for what they would like to accomplish in this community. I am very confident that by working together, we will accomplish that vision.

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