During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the City of Lompoc’s financial manager shared that the city’s budget deficit is projected to grow to $3.6 million over the 2019-21 fiscal years.
This deficit is largely due to the unfunded CalPERS pensions for former employees.
As a possible solution, putting a 1-percent sales tax measure on a city-wide ballot was suggested.
Council members voted 3-2 not to introduce the measure but they will discuss the measure again at a budget workshop on April 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Council member Jim Mosby tells KSBY that it would not be a good idea to rely on a tax measure when, historically, they have not passed in Lompoc.
He’d like to see City Hall make some cuts to its staffing instead, arguing City Hall hasn’t made very many sacrifices while other places have seen cuts. Mosby says the city should reevaluate new positions it has created in the last five to seven years, instead of continuing to freeze positions in places like the police department.
Mosby says the per capita income for the community is down $300 in the last 10 years and it would be unfair to give the community another tax.
Mayor Janelle Osborne says she wanted the sales tax measure. She believes the council should decide what the tax would look like, what it should be used for and then have the public vote for it.
Osborne says she’s concerned with the cutting of staff to fix the budget deficit as it will lower the quality of service for the community. She argues it would only fix the deficit for a short time before the debt could return.
Osborne says they directed staff to come back with a new budget that includes nothing but cuts to staffing to see what the impact would be and how that method could help.
She says she fears public safety could be impacted by the city’s cuts in staffing positions at a time when the city needs to be proactive about responding to calls.
The city is now actively awaiting feedback from the community as to what they would like to see funded.