NEWPORT BEACH : Council to Consider Modest Tax Increases

With a $3-million budget deficit facing the city, the City Council Monday will consider a set of modest tax increases designed to raise a projected $375,000 annually.

The first proposal would mean an up to $1 tax per passenger on charter boats in Newport Harbor. The second tax calls for an extra $10 fine for those delinquent in paying parking tickets. The third would be an annual fee charged people with security alarms in their homes.

Even the strongest tax foes on the City Council appear to favor the new fee.

"I can justify them," said Councilman Phil Sansone. Of the marine charter tax, he said, "I don't mind if tourists have to kick in a buck to help pay for harbor and tidelands maintenance."

The city currently charges boat operators who shuttle passengers in and out of Newport Harbor $42 a year for a permit, City Manager Kevin Murphy said. The current proposal would charge each passenger a dollar on boat fares over $10. For boat fares less than $10, there would be a 50-cent fee. There would be no fee for boats, like the Balboa Ferry, that charge less than $5.

Murphy said Newport Beach was one of the only harbors in the state with no head tax on charter passengers. About 80 charter companies carry 300,000 passengers, according to city statistics. The tax is expected to raise $150,000.

The proposed tax on home alarms would affect 6,000 residences in Newport Beach. Monday, the City Council is expected to approve a $20 annual fee to raise $150,000 to help cover police costs in responding to thousands of false alarms each year.

The charge on delinquent parking citations would raise an estimated $75,000 per year.

Murphy said the city has already laid off seven city workers and plan to eliminate 33 total municipal positions in order to cut expenses.

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