Chula Vista tax increase funds public safety and staffing services
People in Chula Vista are now paying a half-cent more in sales tax to fund public safety staffing and services, thanks to Measure A.
Mike Diaz, Deputy Mayor of Chula Vista, came by the studio on Tuesday to talk about the tax increase.
On June 5, Chula Vista voters passed Measure A, a half-cent sales tax measure to fund public safety staffing and services. An estimated $18 million in sales tax will be collected annually for Measure A expenditures. Collection of the new tax started October 1, 2018. Chula Vista sales tax is now 8.75% (tied with Del Mar and National City for highest rate in San Diego County. City of San Diego is 7.75%)
The new tax will allow Chula Vista Fire and Police Departments to provide faster responses to 9-1-1 emergency calls, increase neighborhood police patrols, reduce gang and drug-related crimes, address homelessness, and improve firefighter, paramedic and emergency medical response times. Like many other cities in the country, Chula Vista has struggled to properly fund and maintain public safety staffing. The City allocates 67 percent of discretionary revenues to Police and Fire services combined.
However, staffing levels for the Police and Fire Departments are below regional, state, and national average. This low level of staffing affects response times and service levels. Following an extensive outreach process that included public workshops at City Council meetings, community presentations, a public opinion survey and input from a Public Safety Advisory Committee, the City Council approved placing a half-cent sales tax on the June 2018 ballot to fund public safety staffing and services.
As part of the action to approve placing the sales tax measure on the ballot, the Chula Vista City Council also adopted the Intended Public Safety Expenditure Plan, which outlines the intended use of the funding. For the Chula Vista Police Department, this will allow 43 police department positions to be filled: 29 officers, agents and sergeants and 14 civilian positions such as dispatchers, community service officers and background investigators. For the Chula Vista Fire Department, it will bring 36 fire department positions including a deputy chief, fire captains, firefighter/paramedics, firefighters and a public education specialist.
The ballot measure also included a provision to establish a Citizens’ Oversight Committee to review and report on all Measure A proposed expenditure plans, financial reports and audits.
The Chula Vista Measure A Citizens’ Oversight Committee (COC) has been established and the first meeting was held September 26. Composed of 11 members, seven of the COC members serve as “Designated Members” nominated by local organizations and individuals such as the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, Chula Vista Growth Management Oversight Commission, Chula Vista Police Officers Association, International Association of Fire Fighters, Association of Chula Vista Employees, and a nomination from the Chula Vista Police and Fire chiefs. The remaining four members are “At-Large Members” selected from a pool of applicants. “At-Large Members” appointed include one resident from each of the four City Council districts.