Pursue Neighborhood Improvement Without Special Funds and TOT Set-Asides

Sometime next month, the Anaheim City Council will consider setting aside a portion of the Transient Occupancy tax (TOT) to fund a neighborhood improvement fund. Mayor Tom Tait asked staff in December that this idea be part of 2013 budget discussions.

Councilwoman Lucille Kring campaigned on diverting 1% of TOT revenues into neighborhood youth and social programs.

Mayor Tait’s proposal is more focused on the physical aspects of neighborhood improvement, in addition to intensifying community policing. According to this December 26 story from the OC Register:

Tait wants a neighborhood-improvement fund established that could use some tax revenues to upgrade neighborhoods through additional graffiti removal, street repaving and increased community policing.

 Several council members have called for a similar idea. Tait suggested that the improvement fund be included in discussions about the city’s 2013-14 budget. 

I know the residents of West Anaheim have specifically called for more attention to issues that they uniquely face in maintaining a better quality of life,” Tait said. “And there are other neighborhoods that – with a little more attention – can provide a safer, more livable environment for the residents.”

These are all good, legitimate and necessary responsibilities of local government. My question – or concern, really – is about creating a special fund with a dedicated revenue source.

These are needs that can be identified and budgeted for in the ordinary course of establishing city spending priorities. If a street that needs re-paving gets it, does it matter whether or not the money comes from a special Neighborhood Improvement  Fund with its very own TOT set-aside?

The danger of setting aside a set portion of TOT revenue for a special fund is it immediately acquires the qualities of an entitlement, with its own set of attached interests who will take a proprietary interest in the revenue , continually pushing for increasing the percentage or fighting any downward adjustment.
This kind of set-aside budgeting looks gimmicky, has a poor track record and tends to distort municipal budgeting and unduly tie the hands of future councils facing different priorities.

Putting more city resources into neighborhood improvements of the sort described above is all to the good, but the council would be better advised to do so through ordinary budgeting rather than revenue set-asides and special funds. These are ordinary city government responsibilities that are best met through ordinary methods.

26 comments

  1. Do you have any examples to share of other municipalities that found this to be problematic? Or do you just state that it has a poor track record as your personal opinion.

    The reason the Mayor is doing this is because the resort keeps sidetracking TOT revenue for it’s benefit while the rest of the city is in shambles. Murray doesn’t care or notice because she lives in the hills. This is the primary reason I started to engage myself politically. Can’t stand the graffiti, trash, run down properties, streets that haven’t been paved in decades, and so on.

    My folks have lived in their current Anaheim home (in a “nicer” part of Anaheim) for over 27 years and not once has their street been repaved. Instead the city comes through and patches it which looks horrible.

    Quite frankly I’m not shocked at your position on this matter since this is the same propaganda that I’m sure Murray, Eastman, and Brandman will spew from the dais when it comes up for a vote. Those 3 have no problem giving away and diverting TOT revenue to the resort and ignoring the residents needs. Which makes sense since Disney bought and paid for them. Disney deserves a return on their investment and Carrie Nocella will make sure that happens.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Jason: off the top of my head, I would point to the Prop. 98 guarantee of 40% of the state general fund as an example of such good intentions gone awry. That initiative (which I voted for back 1988) hasn’t improved education, but is has mightily distorted the budget process, and made the question of education funding even more political.

      As for the rest of your comment, you might try reading my post again. As I make very clear, I do not disagree with the council budgeting more funds for neighborhood improvements, especially in areas more in need of it like west Anaheim. My concern is with formally earmarking a percentage of the TOT for that purpose, which will create an entitlement.

      Instead, identify the needed improvements and budget for them. If the money is there, then the money is there.

  2. Do you have any examples to share of other municipalities that found this to be problematic? Or do you just state that it has a poor track record as your personal opinion.

    The reason the Mayor is doing this is because the resort keeps sidetracking TOT revenue for it’s benefit while the rest of the city is in shambles. Murray doesn’t care or notice because she lives in the hills. This is the primary reason I started to engage myself politically. Can’t stand the graffiti, trash, run down properties, streets that haven’t been paved in decades, and so on.

    My folks have lived in their current Anaheim home (in a “nicer” part of Anaheim) for over 27 years and not once has their street been repaved. Instead the city comes through and patches it which looks horrible.

    Quite frankly I’m not shocked at your position on this matter since this is the same propaganda that I’m sure Murray, Eastman, and Brandman will spew from the dais when it comes up for a vote. Those 3 have no problem giving away and diverting TOT revenue to the resort and ignoring the residents needs.

  3. Tax culpable parents of gangbangers and graffiti vandals. Mayor Tait gave away 2 million dollars for graffiti removal and refused to hold culpable parents accountable to recover that giveaway through adopting parental responsibility laws and allowing police to enforce them. James Robert Reade

  4. Same old, same old… the Resort is responsible for everything!!!! The naysayers can’t have it both ways… on the one hand they want to stop all progress and development and blog continuosly about forward thinking projects that affect the resort going forward but on the other hand they have their hands out panhandling from the hard earned $$$ that are earned from our millions of visitors by the hard work of the business folks involved. This all doesn’t come for free…The Disney Corp is the top job provider in the OC and the top benefactor in the OC. Cut them some slack sometime…our City would be nothing without them – alas another Santa Ana… The General Fund is better than most around us and it is ALL thanks to our tourist revenue..and do NOT say that I am a cheerleader for the Disney Corp. I speak as I see….. I am all for neighborhood improvement but folks have to get active in their communities to make that happen and that includes Mr. Young ….I have always found our City to be responsive to the voices of the neighborhoods if it is presented to the specific departments. Our graffiti removal team are now doing a stellar job with a 24 hour turnaround. Folks have to get involved and be active members of their neighborhoods…. instead of filing letters of inquisition to our City departments why not report to Code Enforcement the violations as they come up. I am positive that there would be better results if this was adopted by the aforementioned naysayers. Why not change for 2013 and not contribute to the divides that are already so obvious in our City.

  5. I would argue that the resort provides nothing but low income jobs with little to no benefits. I’d much rather have a company like Googke or Apple in our midst versus a greedy mouse. TOT should benefit the city not be stolen by greedy developers. From my inquiries to Ruth Ruiz, I have found that over 1/2 of our current TOT revenue is diverted back to the resort. To repay bonds that benefitted Disney and to pay off our consistently in the red convention center.

    I regards to graffiti, it is still underfunded and understaffed. We literally only have part time employees working on this full time problem. It took MurrY and Easrman a year and one failure to get is to this lacluster benchmark of performance and staffing.

  6. That TOT revenue is meant to fund city services for the residents not to pad the wallets of developers looking for a handout.

  7. Why are you deleting comments Matt?

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Jason, you’re comments go into moderation instead of going up live due to your compulsive penchant for personnal attacks. Consequently, I have to waste my time reviewing them before they go live. If you would behave like a normal, decent person, that wouldn’t be necessary.

  8. Matt – so you can personally attack me, Cynthia, Brian Chuchua, Mayor Tait, and anyone else who disagrees with your agenda but we can’t?

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Jason: Oh baloney. Where have I made a personal attack against Brian Chuchua or Tom Tait, or even Cynthia?

      regarding you, what I have done is call out – truthmfully — your vicious and dishonest behavior and rhetoric. What you do is spit names at people themselves, and write lies, half-truths and misrepresentations of others.

      When you comment like a normal, decent person, I approve your comments. When you don’t, then I don’t.

      I don’t agree with Cynthia’s opinions and find her comments tiresome and sometimes pretentious, but I approve them.

      • I would find Matt’s argument more believable if all comments were subject to the same filter. Oppose those he likes, you sit in the penalty box of moderation waiting for the admin to approve them (which I actually do not have a problem with, your blog, your controls, your rules) but post a comment that attacks me, or Jason, or Tait and it sails right on through. How about a blanket policy that disallows all personal attack? A sign of character is not only allowing opposition, but defending those who oppose you, recognizing their right to an opposing viewpoint.

  9. nojordanbrandman

    Matt – it’s funny cause nobody on the other side of the issues we disagree on think I am lying, writing half truths, or misrepresenting others. To the contrary they wholeheartedly agree with me. Powerful people at The OC Weekly, OC Register, City Hall, and so on.

    You call me names non-stop but you’ve never presented valid arguments regarding any of the issues.

    I cannot wait till your buddies bring the $158 million Giveaway back to council. A coalition of folks have come together and it will be political suicide for Brandman, Eastman, and Murray.

  10. Doesn’t Cynthia Ward and Jason Young have their own blogs to post their discontent? It is getting old to see their continued rants here – especially when they are solely based on character attacks. Attack the policies or viewpoints of individuals fine – but to continuously lie and manipulate issues to attack the character of various city and community leaders is ridiculous and unnecessary. Matt’s posts have never sunk to the idiotic ranting we get from these two individuals. We get it already – you love Tait and hate Murray and Eastman. It’s nonsensical – move on…

  11. Let me clarify – Matt’s posts have never sunk to their ranting and have been solely based on the issues and actual fact. Thank you Matt for providing a counterpoint to the angry blogs out there that do not address the issues – only seek to harm idividuals.

  12. What a joke, Cynthia Ward calling for an end to personal attacks. What will she do if she can’t continue to call people names. I guess it makes her feel better about herself as she continues to claim her so-called “christian” values and then attack people. My post is harsh I admit, but that is what I have taught my kids, we should stand up bullies.. Cynthia, do something productive with your life. Stop tearing down others and their beliefs and values. Someday you may learn that one can be a part of the political dialogue without being so anti-christian and hateful.

  13. AnaheimFirst and ReasonableGuy1 – how bout telling us your names instead of attacking folks while hiding behind an alias.

    Jason Young

  14. Jason Young – who has been convicted of identify theft and burglary, signs into numerous blogs under many aliases to attack a whole host of city leadership – has the audacity to question people posting here? Now that’s laughable!

  15. AnaheimFirst – stop spreading misinformation
    Wake Up Anaheim – glad to know you’re reading my blog.

    I use NoJordanBrandman or Jason Young. I don’t hide behind false names and call people names. My ads in the OC Register point back to my PAC which I fund. I’ve spoken at City Council. I don’t hide like a chicken.

  16. I am trying to figure out how and when I became responsible for Jason’s blog. I do not run, moderate, write for or financially contribute to saveanaheim blog, but I am somehow expected to control how another adult communicates with the public, simply because we are friends. Yeah, that’s fair. I do not rip on Dan C for supporting liberal candidates, that does not make me culpable for the failures of the Obama administration. When did Jason become my child requiring my approval of his content? The world does not work that way, and frankly none of you would like it if it did.

    If you read my posts on my blog, the ONLY blog whose content I am responsible for, I address the issues by stating pretty clearly that Person ___ engaged in Behavior ___ or approved government spending for ___program, with the result of ____. I hold leaders accountable, and I certainly express my displeasure with what I see as wasteful programs. Not sure how that translates to bullying, but then there seem to be a lot of people in Anaheim lately that mistake the truth for hate.

    I am sorry for that, not sorry for anything I have said or done, as long as I am being blamed for something I have indeed said or done and not what someone else claims I did. But I am sorry for the unbelievable anger, paranoia, and selfishness that has taken over so much of the discussion in the last year or so. I am sorry for what my city is becoming under that influence, and you can blame me all you want, but you better come up with some solid examples of hatefulness in my own words-not the words someone else put in my mouth. Otherwise we need to rethink who is doing the name calling and bullying.

    • Just because you can fill a screen with words attempting to defend yourself, doesn’t make you a decent person…you are not. You have done nothing to help make our city be a better place. Rather you constantly attack people who don’t agree with you. I guess some people don’t mind how they get attention, as long as they get attention. And you claim to hold leaders accountable, what a joke. Leaders lead, whether it’s popular or not. You will always be an outsider and a follower. Just look who you have been following and aligned yourself with…haters.

  17. ReasonableGuy1 stop hiding behind aliases and tell us who you are!

  18. Jason, your remark is what Cynthia Ward would call a “squirrel!!”

  19. ReasonableGuy, I clearly have no idea who you are, or what it is you believe I have done to harm you. So I am hard pressed to apologize. All I can offer is the opportunity to sit down face to face over a cup of coffee and talk like real humans, and give me the chance to apologize for my misdeeds once you have laid them out to me. Otherwise there isn’t much I can do from here. You know who I am and can find me, I cannot do the same with you, so i leave it with you. But if you want to continue to spew venom here without at least trying to sit down and talk it out, I don’t see that as very productive. Up to you.

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