Letter to the Editor | ‘Let’s Not Make Our Financial Situation More Difficult’

'Discussions have taken place and concerns have been raised over many city issues recently, including the city’s finances, budget allocations, personnel and the issue of transparency'

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Resident Kim Hughes, member of the South Pasadena Mobility & Transportation Infrastructure Commission

South Pasadena Needs to Keep the Utility Users Tax (UUT) by Voting Yes on Measure U November 3.

2020 will go down as a year we would all like to forget. Businesses have shut down, lives have been lost, jobs have gone away, and at times we have seemed to have lost our civility. But, in the end we are all a community that lives and works and dreams in the City of South Pasadena.

Discussions have taken place and concerns have been raised over many city issues recently, including the city’s finances, budget allocations, personnel and the issue of transparency.

These are all legitimate concerns. The issues of the financial audit and future budget are of utmost importance. As we wait for the reports, we should remember that if we lose the funding provided by the Utility Users Tax (UUT), the financial situation of the city would only worsen. We are facing deep declines in revenues, and cuts are planned. Without the UUT, even more cuts in services, personnel and programs would be inevitable.

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Making improvements in the budgeting and allocation process is always a good idea, and the community deserves to participate in this process.  Many might recall past budget plans, where residents could voice their priorities and help shape budget allocations. The community should again be able to look at funding for safety services, senior programs, environmental efforts and more.

Even if there are concerns about finances, let’s not make options harder and limit our choices even more.      

If we do not continue the UUT, the city will lose about 12% of the city’s annual revenue ($3.4 million) each year. Many budget areas will be impacted. The UUT has allowed the city to improve its vital infrastructure.

Let’s be clear: Without the UUT, there will be significant cuts to ALL local services. South Pasadena would have no choice but to make drastic cuts to firefighter/paramedic positions — increasing 911 response times. Cuts would impact senior services, tree maintenance, parks, streets and the library.  Getting rid of the UUT has no impact on pension obligations and would only create more of a budget squeeze.

South Pasadena voters have enacted the local UUT funding measure over six times to protect and maintain these local services. The UUT is on the ballot Nov. 3 for renewal at the same rate. For low-income households, there is an exemption.

Funds generated from the UUT cannot be taken by Sacramento or the county to balance their budgets. The UUT funds stay in South Pasadena to improve and maintain our quality of life.

Remember what the UUT provides to the community and why you live in South Pasadena. Because we are a caring and involved community, we will get through the financial issues and work together to “put our house in order.” But, let’s not throw out the UUT as a reaction to this current budget situation.

I am a fiscal conservative and want unnecessary taxes and regulations reigned in where possible. What I don’t want is to eliminate a local tax that allows for South Pasadena to remain a special place to live. I encourage all South Pas voters to vote YES on Measure U November 3 to continue the UUT.

Kim Hughes, member of the South Pasadena Mobility & Transportation Infrastructure Commission; former chair, Natural Resources and Environmental Commission and Public Works Commission; former member of the South Pasadena Water Council and Renewable Energy Council. She is on a committee advocating the passage of Measure U. 

 

 

 

 

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. If you’re serious about passing the UUT, you should be calling for the immediate removal of the City Manager and and Finance Director. Without those necessary changes, we will never get to the bottom of the budget mess. Many feel that it would be irresponsible to pass the UUT when we don’t even know where are funds are going. “Concerns about finances” is putting what’s going on so mildly that I can’t even characterize it.