Editor: Ocean Beach’s councilmember, Kevin Faulconer, has just come out and made a call for public hearings on the tax on tourism, setting up a potential show-down with newly-elected Mayor Bob Filner. But this is a fallacious move on his part as the tax may be declared illegal by a court.
It appears to be more partisan gamesmanship – Faulconer is a Republican whereas Filner is a Democrat -, and not in the interests of the City or our District. Hey Kevin ! On behalf of OBceans – who voted for Filner by huge margins – back off and reconsider all this, dude.
City Councilman Kevin Falconer called for public hearings yesterday to placate the City’s hotel industry, which is growing increasingly panicky over Mayor Bob Filner’s refusal to release funding generated by a hotel room surcharge of 2 percent to finance the Tourism Authority.
“Jobs”, “Police”, “Potholes” whined Falconer, desperate for a buzzword that would play well in the evening’s TV newscasts.
From this morning’s UT-San Diego:
“Every day that goes by San Diego is losing potential tourism tax revenue that we can use to fill potholes and hire more police officers,” Faulconer said in an interview. “Shutting off those funds will hurt one of our most important industries and cost us jobs. I want to ensure that all of the council and the public know the cost of the mayor’s inaction. There’s no excuse for this inaction.”
No excuse, Kevin? Really?
How about the probability that the two per cent tax funding this program will be declared illegal?
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s novel interpretations of the law have already failed the citizens of San Diego twice recently (Balboa Park & the Pension Reform mess). Is it really such a good idea to expose the City’s budget to the damage that could be caused by having to refund all the taxes collected?
There are already lawsuits making their way through the courts challenging the legality of the hotel surcharge, which was imposed using a questionable loophole to avoid voter input as required by law. Again, from this morning’s paper:
Attorney Cory Briggs, who is handling one of the lawsuits on behalf of San Diegans for Open Government, has written a letter to Filner urging him not to sign the agreement.
He argues that if he were to prevail in the lawsuit and the marketing district revenues had already been spent, the city would have to repay the hoteliers out of the general fund.
“By signing the contract now and allowing (the marketing district) to begin spending money before a judge has ruled in the lawsuits is an outrageous gamble with taxpayer resources,” Briggs said.
The long tradition of vested interests in San Diego being able to run roughshod over legal niceties appears to be coming to an end thanks to Mayor Filner.
It can’t be easy. And I’ll wager that before the year is out these interests will seriously attempt to find a way to make recalling the Mayor an issue.
Me, I’m hoping for the Trifecta. I see the courts throwing this whole tax deal out.
If the hoteliers really need this money, let them collect voluntary contributions amongst themselves. This whole business of ‘dedicated’ taxes has turned into a boondoggle that benefits the few at the expense of the many.