Measure I, a continuation of Pismo’s expiring half-cent sales tax for 12 years, is on the November ballot. Yes, 12 years: Typically six-year extensions are proposed.
No argument, this tax enables the city to provide residents many benefits, and approximately 70 percent is paid by visitors, but a 12-year period is questionable. As a general tax, funds can be used for anything, and some cities have been accused of spending sales tax revenues inappropriately (salaries, pensions, etc., instead of long-term infrastructure projects such as undergrounding utilities, parks maintenance, new storm drains and street projects).
The city says that revenue will be used exclusively for infrastructure improvements and promises none will go for salaries or pensions. Yet nowhere in the argument is the 12-year sunset, double the life of the current tax, disclosed.
Ensuring accountability over 12 years, given potential changes in city leadership, could prove difficult, and many believe the public interest could better be served by a shorter sunset. Voters should be able to vote the tax out at the end of a reasonable term if they feel it’s not being used properly.
This 12-year sunset is not well advertised. Be aware!