There is clear contrast among the candidates for Morro Bay mayor and City Council in the critical area of city revenue. Over the past 10 years, Morro Bay has decreased its total employees by 12 percent, while the demands for city services increased. When the global pandemic seriously slashed revenue, drastic cuts were made, and it still required using reserves to balance the budget. There is simply nowhere left to cut without affecting the services citizens need most. Measure E-20 to increase sales tax by 1 cent per dollar will provide that critical revenue. And, sales tax is a way to share the burden with visitors, who make the majority of taxed purchases. Residents' purchases of essential goods (i.e., groceries) and services are not taxed.
Candidates John Headding (mayor), Robert "Red" Davis, and Laurel Barton (council) support Measure E-20. Their opponents insist that the city just needs to "tighten its belt." That position ignores the fact that more than half the city budget is for the essential services that make us a city: public health and safety. When our personal income decreases, we cut spending but we don't stop feeding our children. Cutting essential city services such as police and fire is the municipal equivalent of starvation. I will hold all elected officials accountable for waste, but when revenues fall dramatically, survival requires more income. Just as the Morro Bay citizens' group that studied revenue options, the Chamber of Commerce and our San Luis Obispo County neighbors have concluded, a sales tax increase is the most reliable way to save our services. And we need this cash now. We can't wait two more years for a slightly different revenue measure, as some candidates advocate.