New tax will assess $1.25 per $100 valuation

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to implement a city ad valorem tax, the first ever for the small community, in an effort to fund a new $4 million street and drainage repair project.

In a 3-0 decision, the council voted to create a city ordinance to implement the new tax, which would assess $1.25 per $100 valuation.

Under the terms of the ordinance, 90 percent of that money must be used to pay for the street and drainage project, while the additional 10 percent may be set aside for future projects.

Council members Ricky Munoz, Janie Lopez and Juan Antonio Perez were the only council members present and voted in the new ordinance.

Mayor Alonzo Lopez Jr. was also present at the meeting, but only votes in the event of a tie.

Munoz said Wednesday the city has missed out on a number of funding opportunities because grant programs generally reject cities that do not implement an ad valorem tax.

"We hit dead ends everywhere we went with grants, we were just getting denied everywhere. We finally came to the realization and made people understand that they're not going to give us grants because we don't have a city tax," Munoz said. "So we basically had no option."

Implementing an ad valorem tax paves the way for the city to issue certificates of obligation, which would be used to fund the first and second phases of the proposed $4 million project, Munoz said.

The proposed project highlights four streets in the city that would receive repairs. Those streets include Tovar Street south from Highway 44, and Dix, King and North Ventura avenues.

Once those phases are complete, the city would hope to obtain additional funding in the form of grants to continue the repairs to the rest of the city.

Citizens who oppose the new ad valorem tax have until Sept. 4 to bring a petition signed by at least 10 percent of registered voters to the city. If a petition is filed with the city, the city would be required to hold a bond election to seek voter approval.

Munoz said the council considered the option of initially asking for a bond election, but the city is hoping to avoid more than $10,000 in costs that would be incurred by holding an election.

Munoz said so far response to the decision has been positive, and residents will soon see important changes in the city.

"We've always talked about it, but it looks like we finally got the council's support," Munoz said. "It's time."