By Sandra Moore
The South Pasadena city council held a routine meeting on Wednesday, February 14 to discuss matters of the city, including the dedication of February 9 to artist Nelbert Chouinard, the unusual patchwork appearance of Oak Street, and the Utility Users Tax (UUT) repeal initiative.
City Manager Sergio Gonzales brought up the topic of the UUT repeal initiative, which proposes to stop the current tax of $25 and prohibit further utility taxes. According to Gonzales, repealing the utility tax, which accounts for 16% of the general fund budget, would have severe repercussions on the community. Public library hours would be shortened, police and fire departments responses would be slower, and various community activities might be cut and projects delayed due to necessary cuts.
“Without the UUT, we would seriously have to consider eliminating or contracting out any of those vital services,” Gonzales said.
Other community members felt the dramatic increase in water costs, up 128% in the last seven years, created an unfair UUT that the community never agreed to, and called for the UUT to be voted on. However, proponents of the tax argued for the UUT as an essential part of South Pasadena.
“This is not the time to do this [repeal the UUT],” a self-described single mother said. “Everything that is available to our children, our seniors—they would all be eliminated along with the UUT. It’s time for us to make smart choices.”
The council decided to defer the decision of putting the repeal to vote, and the meeting concluded with short discussions of budget matters and the inspection and removal of vegetation that are potential fire hazards.