On November 3, Morro Bay voters will chose whether to increase the City’s local sales tax by one cent on the dollar, providing funding to maintain 24/7 emergency public safety services and needed maintenance and infrastructure projects, or to make service cuts to address budget deficits.
We strongly encourage Morro Bay voters to say YES on Measure E-20.
The demand for city services is growing, but City resources to provide those services are not. Morro Bay has faced budget challenges since the Great Recession and the Morro Bay Power Plant closure. The pandemic made the problem much worse; projections show a potential loss of $2-3M in general fund revenues this fiscal year.
The City addressed its budget challenges over the past 10 years by reducing staff 11% and limiting City expenditure growth to ½ percent per year, far below the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, calls for service to the fire and police departments have increased.
To balance the FY2020/21 budget, 78 full- and part-time employees were laid off, employees took salary reductions of 5% to 8%, the City Attorney’s Office cut its fees, and emergency reserve funds will make up the difference ($1M). All while maintaining fire/police service levels.
Opponents argue the City can cut expenditures by an additional 10% without impacting first responder/emergency services. This is simply untrue.
Any further cuts must include police and fire because they account for almost half of the budget. Both departments are staffed with the minimum needed for 24/7 coverage. The City cannot maintain current service levels if Measure E-20 does not pass.
In a recent community survey, Morro Bay residents said their highest priority is maintaining locally controlled 24/7 emergency services, including 911, paramedic, police, and fire protection.
Measure E-20 is projected to raise approximately $2M in revenue annually. It will pay for the services residents say they want:
Maintaining 24/7 emergency response, including police, fire and paramedic services.
Keeping our public areas safe and clean.
Infrastructure improvements, such as public restrooms, street repaving, maintenance, and capital projects.
Ensuring the financial stability of Morro Bay so it remains a full-service city.
Visitors pay 70% of the sales tax; voting “Yes” means they will help pay for using the City’s services, roads and beaches. There is no sales tax on basic household needs such as groceries and prescription medications.
All the money raised will be spent in Morro Bay. Isn’t it worth a penny more on a dollar purchase to help our community recover from the pandemic? We hope our community recognizes the need to invest in ourselves.
Measure E-20 ensures that the additional revenue pays for the services residents say are priorities. The citizens committee overseeing Measure Q will guarantee transparency and accountability. If voters believe the City Council is not spending the money wisely, they can repeal Measure E-20.
Morro Bay residents love our City. With investment, we can grow into a safer, more vibrant and economically competitive city. We urge you to vote Yes on E-20.
Tim Cowan, Jen Ford, Stephen Peck,
and Barbara Spagnola
The authors represent the Committee for Sales Tax Measure E-20. For more information, visit the Committee’s website at morrobayyesone.com.
Tim Cowan is a local relator and owner of The Pizza Port. Jen Ford is a co-founder of the Women’s March and co-owner of Rock Harbor Marketing. Stephen Peck is owner of Peck Planning and Development and Chair of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Board. Barbara Spagnola is a retired technology executive and a member of Morro Bay’s Measure Q Oversight Committee.