1% sales tax increase backed by Fountain Valley council


Financial trouble has loomed over Fountain Valley for almost a decade, but the city is hoping that voters support a 1% sales tax increase to help balance the budget.

The City Council on Tuesday endorsed the ballot measure by a 4-1 vote. Councilman Mark McCurdy dissented.

The council had voted July 19 to put the tax-increase measure, known as Measure HH, on the Nov. 8 ballot.


About $11.5 million would be raised per year during a 20-year time frame if the measure is passed, said Maggie Le, assistant to the city manager. Funds would be allocated toward essential city services and helping to maintain low-response times for police and fire, she said.

While residents have expressed concern over the city’s economic future, those attending the council meeting seemed split over whether the ballot measure was the best solution.

Patrick Tucker, a council candidate, called the sales tax increase “excessive” and critiqued the city’s past attempts at generating revenue, including adding a hotel bed tax in 2014.

“I’ve heard time and time again from the dais [that] the state keeps taking our money. Isn’t this the same?” Tucker said.

Meanwhile, Matt Taylor, chairman of the Yes on HH Group, expressed appreciation that the city included voters by conducting surveys on what city services were most important to them.

“[Enough cuts have been made] at this point, and we need to look to revenue enhancement,” Taylor said.

“I think it’s really clear there is no other revenue enhancement that will satisfy the problems we have,” he added, referring to the 1% taxing option.

Within the last few years, the city has cut down on operation costs by reducing 36 city staff positions, contracting out for services and eliminating all but the most urgent repairs on public buildings. The city’s 2016-2017 budget also includes cuts.

During a previous council meeting, finance director David Cain presented what he called a comprehensive 20-year financial sustainability draft plan featuring multiple ways of continuing to cut city costs while increasing revenue.

Eliminating Fire Station 2 and removing recreational senior programs were among the proposals, but Cain said increasing the sales tax was the most viable option for Fountain Valley, since the city will need to take $1.7 million from its general reserve fund to help balance the 2016-2017 budget.

Grant awarded to Police Department

The California Office of Traffic Safety has awarded a $111,000 grant to the Fountain Valley Police Department based on the city’s high number of fatal and injury collisions for its population during 2013, according to a staff report.

The money will help implement four bicycle safety programs at elementary schools, purchase equipment used during DUI checkpoints and help cover training for staff.

Traffic data collected by city staff from 2013 to 2015 indicates that the top three collision factors in the city were driving at unsafe speeds, improper turning and failure to yield.