City Should Return Surplus to Residents
By Steve Magdziak
By Steve Magdziak
The concept is relatively simple; for every million dollars the city cuts in non-essential spending, a rebate of $27.78 per dwelling could be given back to 36,000 dwellings. The city has a budget of roughly $50-60 million. An $11 million dollar cut could lead to a sizeable rebate of $297.00 to each dwelling.
One way in which this rebate could be applied is through our trash bills. Rather than having residents pay their trash bill, the city could work with our current trash hauler to apply the rebate to each resident’s bill. If your trash bill is $160.00 per year or $40 per quarter for example, the city could cut that $5.76 million out of its budget and instead use it to pay for trash collection. Even partial payment of the trash bill through rebates would help get money back to the residents. There is no need for and shouldn't be a tax increase to pay for this; we already do this with street sweepers, landscapers, etc.; services that the city pays with purchase orders.
So what is essential versus non-essential? Here are a few examples. The city has proposed building Bocce Ball Courts at an estimated construction cost of $300,000 to $500,000 (not including the cost of on-going maintenance), possibly funded or subsidized by developer fees. Can anyone reasonably argue that Bocce Ball Courts are essential? While fun, Bocce Ball Courts will only be used by a segment of the population, so should those who will never use them pay to build and maintain them?
Another example is the suggestion to spend $5.56 million on Marguerite Aquatic Complex Pool Decking and Facility Rehabilitation, plus an additional $1 million if a new diving board is needed, all or partially funded by developer fees. Out of an estimated 95,290 residents, around 1,300 Nadadores plus some learn-to-swim-programs use this pool. While a renovated aquatic complex would be nice; is it really an essential service?
Developer fees cannot be used to pay the trash bill, but they can and should be spent wisely on say, park repairs. This would free up that money to pay for other essential services.
It could be argued that if rebates are applied to residents’ trash bills, the trash company’s administrative expenses would decrease since they would no longer have to collect payments from residents. Residents would then have money that would have otherwise been sent outside the city (to the trash company for administrative costs). Studies show that money spent locally in small businesses has a multiplier effect, thus these rebates could help stimulate the local economy.
In my opinion, these programs/services should be done by the private sector which has a record of providing higher quality at less cost than government agencies. In this way residents are not forced to pay for services they never use. This would also save the taxpayers millions in city staff and pensions.
It’s far too easy to spend other people’s money. In my opinion, our city is collecting money that each of us could spend more efficiently and economically than the current city council majority. If you agree, let your council members know by emailing them c/o: email@example.com (be sure to ask the city clerk to forward your email to the council members) or by calling City Hall at: (949) 470-3000.
Note: Most cost estimates are from Community Service Commission meeting on June 18, 2013 http://missionviejo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=12