Issues

Measure V

Why does the city need Measure V? The answer is simple – we have a critical general fund deficit. Currently, the City of Ridgecrest general fund budget is $12.5 including $2.6 million in Measure L revenue. Without Measure L the city’s general fund would be approximately $9.9 million. This would makes Ridgecrest’s general fund budget one of the lowest in the state for a city our size of 28,600.

What is the cause? Simply put, our largest employer China Lake Naval Weapons Center which employs over 6500 individuals pays no sales tax, vehicle tax or property tax. Additionally, the city in 2012 lost $4 million in revenue from the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency (RDA). These two issues create a significant hole in the city’s budget.

How do we compare to other cities?

1) City of Shafter with a population of 17,000. They currently have a general fund budget of $27.9 million which is nearly triple our general fund budget without Measure L.

2) City of Barstow with a population of 23,000. They currently have a general fund budget of $18.1 million almost double our general fund without Measure L.

3) City of Paso Robles with a population of 30,000. They currently have a general fund budget of $30.6 million triple our general fund budget without Measure L.

It is clear our city has a critical general fund shortfall when compared to other cities with less or equal population who are operating with general funds 2 to 3 times our size. While Measure V (the continuation of Measure L) is not the complete fix to our issue it will help our city maintain public safety and road maintenance. If you listen to the hyperbole of some they would lead you to believe that the city is well funded and does not need this continued funding. They are mistaken. Without this funding the City of Ridgecrest will change for the worse. There will be significantly less police protection and road maintenance.

It is up to us to decide which direction we want our city to go.

VOTE YES ON MEASURE V


Tourism

Tourism is the first of many un-polished gem in Ridgecrest of which I speak.
We do not have enough income to support many of the needs and virtually none of the wants inside the City of Ridgecrest from income to the City.

Tourists cost us virtually nothing. They do not impact the need for more infrastructure, roads nor schools. In some cases, all we have to do is be here in this, almost pristine, area. The Dean Runyon Associates Report analyzes visitors, be they business or tourists, for counties in California, which may be found at www.deanrunyon.com. It states:
1. direct travel spending in California was $109.6 billion in 2013
2. 11.9% of our gross domestic product in California Indirect taxes (this refers to the property taxes, excise taxes and fees that businesses pay to local, state and federal governments and does not include income tax) The largest single source that 11.9% – was in business/tourism travel.

What about locally?
Tourism is expect to grow another 4% for this year and more importantly we have an opportunity with Petroglyph Festival and Park and other events to draw new tourists to our area. Numbers released by the Runyon Report suggests the average spend of an overnight tourist is $200 for our area. Taxes collected from these visitors are vital to the health of our city budget. Based on 20% of the total, overnight stays equals 25,764 stays identified as tourists.
The total value of all overnight visitors has a revenue impact of $25 million to Ridgecrest through accommodations, food, and retail and gas purchases. Using the total tax rate of 9%, (TOT tax is 10%, TID 2%, Retail 8.25%), the tax revenue collected by area businesses is roughly $2.25 million. These tax revenues are almost 25% of the city’s entire budget. If visitors did not contribute to this budget, we would.

According to Cal Trans almost 5 million visitors drive by us on Hwy. 395. If we only got 1% of these to stop in Ridgecrest for food, gas, purchases or roomsand knowing the average spend of $200 adds almost an extra $1 million dollars to our local income.
When the Royal Air Force was here a short time ago, for not quite two weeks, they spent $1 million dollars. This particular contingent is expected back near the end of November for as long as a month. We do nothing to earn that except supply a service along with the Base.
This is not just the same local money swirling around our local pot. It is new additional monies spent here and returned to the City of Ridgecrest in taxes, salaries and benefits.

It is not magic it is pure supply side economics.

Smart money to our community businesses and to the City of Ridgecrest.

Instead of complaining, we do not have this business or that business, we have local businesses who uniquely serve this community. We have many Fortune 500 businesses here, as well as many national companies. If we support AND the City supports what we have, the rest will come!

I would like to see us investing in ourselves to grow our businesses and diversify our economy.
Tourism is the first proven alternative!


Fiscal Responsibility

a. Better financial projections
1. Departments will report at budget and mid budget review with numbers and program analysis
b. Individually and collectively, we can not cut our way out of debt. We reduce costs as much as we can in a responsible manner. We GROW our way to prosperity.
1. Advertise and Merchandize the Kerr McGee Center as a reasonably pricedalternative to events from outside our area. Actively seek them, offer extraordinary service, a quality product at a fair price. Look at alternative ways to accomplish this.
2. Revenue enhancing alternatives – as many other cities do partnerships with local businesses, form improvement districts to fix, repair, remodel local businesses and develop associations with other service providers locally to grow events

After the monetary issues, there is no more important issue than the way we view and treat ourselves and the way residents view and treat us. We are defined by that ability to listen and use information – as is the public. It is a two way street. Civility and respect begat the same.
We must listen, learn and take advice and information from the voters. It can not simply be a step we must take but use it also as part of the process in determining answers and solutions.
No one comes to this position. nor any other, knowing it all. We seek information form many sources, staff, online, books, individuals and last but not least, the public and do so with respect, honesty and thanks for the additional information.
The Council is elected to represent the voters – our bosses – and we must act with respect and civility.