15 Sep 2014
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City Council Moves Forward with Tax Increases, Will Likely be on Ballot

Hotel tax and fire protection fee increases will likely be on the ballot in November- see what else happened at the Council meeting.

The voted to move forward with drafting ballot measures that would increase hotel taxes and fire protection fees in town, along with a slew of other decisions.

A whole heap of proclamations were issued including Combat Ready Angry Bear’s Day and “Esther McCartney Day” on her 100th Birthday! .

The Council discussed why the two tax/fee increase proposals that would appear on the upcoming November ballot are necessary- the City of Santee's . $3.4 million has been taken from since 2008, and the has and will continue to take a bite out the budget.

The vote was essentially a placeholder, allowing the city to finalize the ballot language, tweak the amount of tax increase, or even to decide against putting it on the ballot. The final decisions must be made by June.

"I just want the option for this- the chance to get more clarity," said Councilmember Rob McNelis.

The first tax increase would be the city's Transient Occupancy Tax, which applies to guests of hotels, a raise from 6 to 10 percent is suggested in the draft.

Currently Santee has the lowest TOT in the county, 6 percent, versus a high of 13 percent in Solana Beach. The city estimates revenue of $116,300 from TOT this fiscal year. An increase in TOT tax rate would require a majority vote by the public.

Also under consideration is an increase in the rate of the City's special parcel tax for fire protection services (aka Fire Benefit Fee), in the draft materials the fee is increased by 50 percent.

This fee is currently $41 annually per "dwelling unit" and commercial and industrial units. It would rise to $61.50. The city estimates $923,000 in revenue from the fee this fiscal year. In order to increase the FBF a two-thirds super majority of the public would have to vote in favor.

Each measure would cost about $26,000 to $30,000 to put on the ballot.

"I want this on the ballot and I want people to know it is the state that has forced this," said Councilmember John Minto.

Other Business

The council accepted a proposal from Waste Management of San Diego (WMSD) for solid waste and recyclables collection services. The council had previously put the city's collection services out to bid, and WMSD came back with a proposal with a better economic benefit for the city than Allied Waste Services.

Council also approved an amendment to the FY 2011-12 Budget to eliminate one full time secretary position and add . The secretary position has been recently vacated and the will save the city $21,000 annually.

The council also approved immediate on Rancho Fanita Drive, waiving the requirement for competitive bidding, and authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract to complete the necessary repairs of the storm drain pipe.

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