How is the City of Whittier maintaining a high quality of life for local residents?Whittier maintains a high quality of life for local residents through robust City services that help residents succeed and thrive. The City offers enrichment opportunities for youth and teens, responsive public works crews, and local police who work tirelessly to keep Whittier safe. We are committed to serving a community rich with traditions, history, and a strong sense of heritage that honors diversity while protecting and preserving landmark structures unique to our city.
How have State budget cuts impacted the City’s ability to provide local services?
Since the recession, the City has lost approximately 25% of its sales tax revenue, and the State took another $8 million from the City when it eliminated redevelopment funding in 2012. At the same time, changes in pension funding are projected to increase City costs by an additional $6 million in the next five years. This has impacted funding available for public safety and public work services.
The City has taken a proactive approach to reducing its expenditures, including reducing staff, streamlining city services and increasing employee shares of their pensions in order to maintain the level of services our community desires. Even with these measures in place, the City is facing a cumulative deficit of nearly $19 million over the next 5 years.
Given that the police department and other City services account for a large portion of the City’s general fund budget, there is only so much that can be cut before it begins to negatively impact our community.
What has the City done to address pension costs?Whittier has been a leader in the State by proactively addressing pension cost increases. The rising cost of pensions is a statewide problem and all cities throughout California are experiencing similar challenges. City employees now contribute up to 12% of their salary to cover their pension. This is one of the higher employee contribution rates in the region. Whittier also has a two-tier pension system where newer hires receive more modest benefits and also created a local pension trust to help cover future pension liabilities.
How is the City of Whittier addressing funding needs?
The first priority is maintaining the quality of life and public safety of all Whittier residents, while remaining committed to long-term financial stability.
To provide stable, local funding to meet these needs, the Whittier City Council voted on November 12 to place a three-quarter cent Neighborhood Safety and Community Service transaction and use tax, commonly known as a sales tax, on the March 3, 2020 ballot. While no decision has been made, it is estimated that a sales tax would generate approximately $6.4 million a year for local City services.
What city services could the Neighborhood Safety and Community Service Sales Tax Measure help support?
If approved by voters, locally-controlled revenue from a sales tax could help:
- Hire and retain police officers to reduce crime, gang, drug, and graffiti activity on our streets
- Address homelessness in our community
- Fund senior, youth, and after school programs
- Maintain streets and sidewalks and keep parks and other public areas clean and safe
- Provide quick responses to 9-1-1 emergencies
Could the State cut or take sales tax funding from the City of Whittier?Unlike many other sources of revenue—which are allocated by the State to the City and can therefore be easily shifted by the State—local sales tax revenues would be controlled locally. Tax revenues would stay in Whittier to fund local services in Whittier. The City is committed to finding a local solution that provides local dollars for local services.
What accountability measures would be included in the Sales Tax Measure?The sales tax measure would include a clear system of accountability, including public independent audits, to ensure sales tax funds are spent only for legal purposes.
Would visitors to Whittier pay the local sales tax?Yes, sales tax is paid by anyone who shops in Whittier. This ensures that both residents and visitors contribute revenue for the roads, public safety services, and other resources they utilize while in our city.
How much would a sales tax measure cost?The potential sales tax would cost shoppers only 75 cents on a $100 purchase and would raise over $6 million annually for Whittier City services.
Will this sales tax measure be applied to groceries or prescription medicine?Most groceries and prescription medicines are exempt from the statewide sales tax. Purchases of groceries and prescription medicines in Whittier that are exempt from the statewide sales tax would also be exempt from the new local sales tax.
How do other city sales tax rates compare to Whittier?
A number of neighboring cities already have, or are considering, tax rates that are similar or higher than what is proposed for Whittier. Current sales tax rates (including both state and local taxes) in Whittier and number of other local cities include:
City Rate Santa Fe Springs 10.50% Glendale 10.25% Long Beach 10.25% Downey 10.00% South El Monte 10.00% Industry 9.50% La Mirada 9.50% La Puente 9.50% Los Angeles 9.50% Montebello 9.50% Norwalk 9.50% Whittier 9.50%
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