Promoters of Measure O to increase our sales tax in Ventura — mostly city employees and employee unions — are omitting key facts. Mailers we received and recent letters published in The Star refer to needs for more police, road repair and other “urgent” needs.
What they avoid mentioning is that 2017 city revenues are already projected to be our highest in recent history. They also never mention that city employees just received massive raises. Those salary increases and rising pension costs are the real reason they want more tax money.
Here’s one example, taken directly from figures published in The Star on Aug. 6: Firefighters are receiving raises totaling 6 percent between December 2015 and July 2017, plus a bonus of $1,500 to accept this raise. In addition, they received a monthly increase of $815 toward their health care costs and a $513 monthly contribution to a health savings account (or the option to take it in cash).
Adding it up, the raise for the average Ventura firefighter, already earning $130,000 per year, is another $23,736 — much of it tax-free. That’s over 18 percent on top of an already-substantial salary. Most other city employees received similar raises earlier in the year.
Doesn’t it make sense to have more measured salary increases, and benefits more in line with what we citizens receive, and use the savings to hire more police?
We citizens always hear about the negotiations with city employees after they are over. We are only asked to show up with our checkbooks after the dealing is done.
The only voice we have is to vote no on Measure O. Restraining growth in revenues will force city officials to prioritize. Giving them a $270 million blank check will do the opposite.
Randy Hinton, Ventura