Ventura Wants More Taxes

Ventura City Council Asks For More Taxes. Why You Should Say No.

—Jean Baptist Colbert


On May 23, 2016, the Ventura City Council joined a parade of governments hoping to persuade voters to raise the sales tax, and last week, in a 6 to 1 decision, the Council voted to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot to raise the Ventura sales tax by 1/2 %. Councilman James Monahan voted against the measure.

As adopted the increase would:(1) produce an additional $10.8 million per year; (2) sunset in 25 years; (2) be subject to an citizens oversight committee; (3) be subject to an annual audit, and (4) be used to ” maintain essential services”.  Over the 25 year period citizens would pay another $270,000,000 above what they are already paying.

Greedy pig with more taxes

Ventura jumps at the chance for more taxes.

In asking the Council to adopt the measure the City Manager, Mark Watkins commented that “we have recovered from the recession.  For the First time we have reserves which exceed those that we had prior to the recession”.  Notwithstanding the recovery he asked the Council to approve a ballot measure to ask voters to increase our sales tax by 1/2 cent.

Supervisor Bennett addressed the council, purportedly as a citizen and not as a member of the Board of Supervisors or the Ventura County Transportation Board.  He opposed this sales tax measure for the November election and asked the council not to put the matter on the ballot for another 2 years because it would be in competition with his County 1/2 cent transportation sales tax and the Ventura School District tax that will again be on the November ballot.  His concern is that the voters would be confused.


In return for more taxes, Ventura offers a citizens’ oversight committee.

The City Manager and Mayor Nasarenko, in their effort to seek approval by the voters, are quick to point out that this new tax money will be subject to a citizen’s oversight committee.  The question for voters is whether this oversight committee idea is a substantive proposal or an illusory and hollow effort to inveigle as yes vote from 51% of our voters.

During the May 23rd meeting citizens Mr. Ron Baker and Ms. Allison Carlson expressed the sentiment many others feel about such a proposal.  Mr. Bakers said “Instead of promises and assurances on how this (tax) money is spent, I want to see evidence”.

Ms. Carlson voiced that such a tax should only be a last resort then came right to the question most people are asking.   She wanted to know just how the citizen’s oversight committee would be appointed and how it would work:

“who are these people, who are they going to be, who approves them and puts them on the committee. If it is the City Council I would suggest that they have a conflict of interest.  I want to know it will not be a rubber stamp committee, and want to make sure there are watchdogs on the committee and I want to know that the committee oversight happens before the money is spent.  It is not fair for the City to spend the money first and then say this is how we spent the money.”

At the end of the hearing the Councilman Morehouse asked the same the City Manager how the committee would be appointed and how it would work.  His response was that THE COUNCIL should appoint the people to the citizens committee, THE COUNCIL should decide how the money was to be spent and THE COUNCIL should not place any limitations on how THE COUNCIL proposes to spend the new tax money.

After a pregnant pause the council members said nothing then proceeded to vote in favor of the City Manager preparing a 1/2% sales tax measure for the November ballot.


Prior to voting in favor of the new tax Councilman Morehouse, observed that “a sales tax is regressive and it does intend to impact those who are poorer and we have a lot of elderly people who have fixed incomes”.  He is correct.

More taxes hurt struggling families

More taxes on Ventura’s Middle Class hurts struggling families.

Such taxes are imposed on everything that a family will buy to maintain their standard of living except food and prescriptions at the market.  The lower your income the higher the percentage of that income the family must pay in tax. According to statistics published by the Federal Reserve 47% of Americans cannot scrape enough money together to pay for an unexpected $400 emergency. Statistically than means 53,221 of our citizens do not have that amount of money.

This City Council advertises that this new tax will only cost the average family an additional $170 per year.  To make that statement they must assume that the average family will spend $34,000 per year on all purchases such as clothes, mobile phones, restaurants and widgets. , which if taxed at the 7.25% , will cost $2,465 a year.  If the tax is increased by 1/2 % the new tax would be 7.75%.  That will cost a family $2,635. per year.

Now consider the gauntlet of other increased taxes and cost: (1) water rate increase of 18.5% in July; (2) Medicare deduction increase of 0.9% (3) payroll tax increase from 37.4% to 52.2%; (4) income tax increase of 4.6% (5) Ventura County Transportation ales tax of 1/2%, and (6) $59 annual tax from the Ventura School District.

Footnote: In 2012 Proposition 30 was passed increasing the sales tax by 1/4% to 7.5% for 4 years. This increase is scheduled to terminate in November, 2016.  There is now an initiative in progress to extend all of part of that tax measure. Unless extended the State tax rate will revert to 7.25%.

The voters in Ventura need to pay special attention when it comes time to vote in November and remember that every dollar a family has to pay in taxes to the government is less they will have to support their family.


Does our city government “need” the additional money from the sales tax increase to provide the essential functions of government?

Consider how Ventura’s General Fund compares to the General Funds of other cities in the County and how much of those funds
are spent for each citizen.  Ventura has the second highest per capita amount to spend on its citizens. Only Ojai is higher.


General Fund Population Per Citizen
Ventura  $93,926,316.00  106,443  $861.49
Ojai *  $8,668,900.00  7,461  $1,161.89
Port Hueneme  $16,125,866.00  21,723  $742.34
Thousand Oaks  $76,933,217.00  126,683  $607.29
Oxnard  $118,110,062.00  197,899  $596.82
Camarillo  $34,000,000.00  65,201  $521.46
Simi Valley  $63,646,200.00  124,237  $512.30
Moorpark  $17,329,940.00  34,421  $503.47
Fillmore  $7,261,045.00  15,002  $484.01
Santa Paula  $14,086,725.00  29,321  $480.43


*  City of Ojai receives a “significant” amount of its revenue from the TOT taxes paid by the Ojai Valley Inn.

Other cities in the county have less money to spend, in general, and significantly less money to spend per person than Ventura. Those cities provide for police, fire, streets and operational costs with the money they have. The Ventura City Council claims it does not have enough.  Councilwoman Weir’s comment is telling:

“We are able with our growing revenue to pay some of our costs but the big projects, like our promenade, our sidewalks and our shoreline that are multi-million dollar projects, we just don’t have the money”

If approved and the sales tax projections prove to be generally accurate the City of Ventura, for the first time in its history would have general revenue income of $103,926,000.  Each of the seven Council members have a different set of priorities but here is a summary and result  of the “group think” called City of Ventura Community Investment Spending Plan for the next 25 years, not including water/wastewater costs.

45% to programs and services              $167,160,000.
30% to infrastructure maintenance           111,440,000
25% to capital and infrastructure               92,867,000
Other estimated revenue for capital         190,773,000
Total                                               $562,240,000


A Politician’s promise of how they will spend new tax money, given a 25 year history of their wasting millions in tax dollars on foolish projects and ventures, is just that – a hollow and meaningless promise.

Without a guarantee of the appointment of an independent citizen’s oversight committee on how this new tax money will be spent voters should not approve this tax measure in November.

VREG Committee:

R. Alviani,     K. Corse,   T. Cook, R. Berry,
J. Tingstrom, R. McCord, S. Doll, C. Kistner, W. Frank

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