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City of Lompoc proposes sales tax increase to help with budget deficit

Posted at 7:09 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 22:09:48-04

At a luncheon Thursday, Lompoc city leaders discussed adding a one-percent sales tax increase to the next ballot to help fix a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

The city is currently facing a lack of funding, including more than a dozen openings in the Lompoc Police Department.

In June, the Lompoc City Council passed a new budget with $3 million in cuts. That decision froze positions at the Lompoc Police Department, cut $700,000 of overtime for the fire department, and cut a battalion chief and the Lompoc Community Relations Manager/Public Information Officer position. Other positions and resources in the city were also cut thin after the budget was passed.

At Thursday’s meeting, Lompoc officials talked about how the budget is impacting the community.

They said staffing and road repairs are two of the items in need of serious funds. On top of that, they said there is no money to retrofit the fire department’s building and damaged roads.

If the tax is approved, Lompoc Accounting Manager Dean Albro said the money would be just enough to keep the city afloat.

“Put a general sales tax on the ballot regarding public safety, parks, streets and the library, that is what a general fund is, that is where the impact of the debt is hitting us the hardest,” said Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne. “That bill has to be paid no matter what and so, as a result, we need additional revenue in order to improve all of those services, retain and actually pay better.”

Albro said even if the sales tax is approved, budget issues could last for decades.

Right now, city leaders say to make up for the lack of resources, officers are taking on more responsibility.