To: The Concerned Citizens of La Quinta
From: Mark Moran
Recently the Desert Sun printed a front page story about the deliberations of a City convened committee that is recommending a sales tax increase for La Quinta. I was surprised that the Advisory Committee, with many notable names from the community, all came up with what is being described as a “No Brainer” by committee member Jim Cathcart, a local Real Estate Broker and former City Council member and someone who I have great regard. I don’t question the sincerity of the committee members but I do question the outcome of their deliberations.
Here are the facts: The City of LQ, when it incorporated back in 1982, allowed Riverside County to keep the majority of our property taxes. We get 7% of each dollar, so when you pay your property taxes, you are really paying Riverside County. Our incorporation deal allowed the City to keep it’s sales taxes and bed taxes (hotel transient occupancy tax). That was it, of course when the State allowed Redevelopment Agencies to collect property taxes, that agency brought in tens of millions of dollars a year. With Redevelopment gone, so did the millions that it generated and of course the public works projects that it paid for, like SilverRock Resort. We, as a City, were so addicted to Redevelopment that it never occurred to our City Council or Staff that we needed a plan B, just in case.
Remember that saying about thinking outside the box, well it appears that we saw the “box” as a coffin. Getting outside of our box was about digging out from “the good old days” of Redevelopment. It appears that we are still reacting to something that once gone, needed to be forgotten but we just can’t get over it. So cities have been plotting on how to make up the lost revenue and of course Sales Taxes appeared to be the easy fix. Palm Springs increased it’s sales taxes to pay for hotel and retail projects in it’s downtown. It worked and of course they have been quibbling over those dollars ever since. So if our solution is a sales tax increase maybe the Committee needs to consider this, by adding a percent or two to the existing sales tax, it makes our Auto Mall and big retailers less competitive than our neighbors. Would you be willing to pay an extra $1,000 for a new or used car? How about those wonderful appliances that Walmart sells or Best Buy, they too will be priced above our competing cities. In fact I suspect that the real winners, if we increase sales taxes, will be Indio, Palm Desert and Cathedral City.
So, when I read the Desert Sun article and it says that the LQ Committee didn’t want to raise taxes, they should have stayed with that concept and figured out something that isn’t going to cost you and me more money at the check-out stand.
Our congratulations to our CCOLQ Committee Chair Mark Moran on being the newly elected Chairman of “RAPF” Regional Access Project Foundation. An organization tasked to redistribute sales tax dollars to local not-for-profits in Eastern Riverside County.