Culver City Observer -


'Fiscal Emergency' Declared Voters to Decide on Tax Hike


Acknowledging its massive municipal deficit to fund city employee pensions, the Culver City Council this week unanimously agreed to declare a "fiscal emergency" and pushed forward with its plans to ask local voters to approve another one-quarter cent sales-tax hike in a special November election.

The increase would be on top of Measure “Y” that raised the sales tax in Culver City by ¼ percent in 2012. That tax expires or “sunsets” in 2022. The city CFO Jeff Muir has already advised council that Measure Y tax increase needs to be made permanent.

California law requires the Culver Council to ask voters for approval for yet another tax increase. The tax increase will appear on the November 6 ballot.

The new, quarter-cent tax increase that Culver voters will be asked to approve will be levied on local consumers, from Target to take-out lunches from taco Bell.

"No one wants to see taxes rise, but no one wants to see their services cut either," Vice Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells said before she joined her colleagues to raise the local sales tax,

The city budget states, “CalPERS sustained huge investment losses during the Great Recession that greatly reduced the funded status of the plans.”

According to Transparent California the total pension benefits promised by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) increased 886 percent from 1987-2016 — a rate 21 times greater than the cumulative increase in the state's population, according to a just-released analysis from Transparent California.

Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner directly attacks excuses made by local governments, “Some politicians and government unions have claimed that last decade’s market downturn is the cause of California’s pension crisis. As this data makes clear, the real cause is the tremendous growth in the size of the benefits that were promised.”

Fellner observed that blaming the inevitable market downturn as the source of CalPERS funding woes is analogous to a gambler citing a bad run at the blackjack table for having less-than-anticipated funds: “Elected officials’ willingness to take on such massive debt, not the fact that the stock market sometimes goes down, is the root cause of California’s pension crisis.”

Culver City maintains a healthy reserve fund and is in much better financial condition than most cities.

Culver City’s budget is available for review at:

On related matters the council voted to move the city election to coincide with the November general election every two years. This move must also be approved by the voters in November.


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