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Our View: The free ride is over

Posted: March 28, 2009 11:07 p.m.
Updated: March 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.
We warned you last autumn that the city of Santa Clarita was in for some lean times when the tax receipts come in.

Well, they're in. The prediction came home to roost this month when City Manager Ken Pulskamp said sales-tax revenues were off 15 percent for the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007.

"I've never seen such a dramatic decrease in sales-tax revenue as we are seeing in our fourth-quarter numbers," Pulskamp said as he announced the drop to $7.3 million from $8.6 million for the last three months of the year.

Not really wanting to be the harbinger of bad news, we've got another prediction: The first-quarter 2009 numbers are going to be just as bad, if not worse.

Consumer confidence is in the toilet. People aren't spending money, at least not on luxury items - translating into fewer sales-tax dollars for the city to spend on roads and parks and law enforcement.

Now the Legislature has thrown gasoline on the fire by upping the state sales tax, making it even tougher for consumers to stretch their hard-earned dollars.

And make no mistake: The sales-tax hike won't help the city of Santa Clarita. It goes to Sacramento.
Pulskamp says no city service is sacrosanct. Everything is on the table for cuts. Nobody is getting a pink slip at the moment, but we'll see what happens next quarter.

Evidently the city is feeling what those of us in private enterprise have felt for some time. Here at The Signal, we're running a leaner operation than we were running a year ago or even three months ago.

The city has a history of conservative fiscal management. It can weather the storm, but it will need to run an even tighter ship than it has run in the past.


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