Last June, the Fullerton city Council tasked the Infrastructure and Natural Resources (INRAC) Committee with studying alternatives and making a recommendation to address Fullerton’s infrastructure needs. The committee has been meeting twice a month since then to develop the recommendation. On January 23rd, we held an evening meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall to present our recommendations and get feedback from the public.
The committee looked at all aspects of Fullerton Infrastructure, including roads, alleyways, bridges, buildings, lights, sewer systems and more. For each type of infrastructure, we looked at the current budget, and compared that budget to the cities needs. We focused particularly on streets, since repairs have not kept up with wear and tear, over many years. To read an article about these findings click HERE. We then looked into potential sources of funding to address our aging infrastructure.
We wanted to make sure the highest priority needs were met, so we categorized the infrastructure requirements into Level 1 (high), level 2 and level 3 priorities. Streets, bridges, major building repairs and ADA (building standards) requirements were deemed the highest priority. We have a $14M shortfall for our high priority needs. Our level 2 items (parking lots and parking structures, parks and trails, landscape maintenance, alleys and storm drains) have a $9M shortfall.
With this knowledge, the committee is aiming to increase our annual revenue by $24M, primarily to address the level 1 and level 2 items. We looked into grants, but quickly found out that very few grants are available for infrastructure. We also ruled out bonds, since bonds are best for one-time needs, and our infrastructure needs are ongoing. We considered a parcel tax, but felt that would place the entire burden on property owners.
We also considered other ways to increase revenue for infrastructure, such as contracting out more city services, increasing economic development in the city, revenue from other sources such as cannabis sales and taxes on short term revenue. While some of these sources of increased revenue for the city may eventually be implemented, the new revenue they will generate will fall far short of what is needed to upgrade our roads and other high-priority infrastructure needs. Thus we decided to recommend a sales tax, since that will be paid by both residents and non-residents who shop and dine in Fullerton.
Several neighboring cities have raised their sales taxes:
2008 La Habra
2016 Fountain Valley, La Palma, Westminster
2018 Garden Grove, Placentia, Santa Ana (1.5%)
Voters will have to approve a sales tax increase. The Committee will recommend a 1¢ special sales tax that will require support from 2/3 of the voters to ensure revenues are spent on infrastructure.
The recommendation of a special sales tax would yield approximately $24-million annually.
The committee’s next steps are to review the comments we received from the public and post applicable responses on the INRAC website, make any final changes to the recommendation based on the public feedback, and then present our formal recommendation to the council.
As a reminder to the public, this is a recommendation only, and the Council will make the final decision.
For more details, links to both the presentation and the video can be found at the INRAC web page HERE. under the ‘Community Presentations’ section.
Patty Tutor is a member of the Fullerton Infrastructure and Natural Resources Committee.
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