Thanks to burbed reader Herve for sending in this cheery news! Wow, cleared for takeoff!
The end of Half Moon Bay?
By Julia Scott, San Mateo County Times
Posted: 08/27/2010 11:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 08/28/2010 01:55:27 PM PDT
HALF MOON BAY — Between budget losses and lawsuit payments, Half Moon Bay’s financials have become so dire that if a local sales tax measure doesn’t pass this November, officials say they may have to disincorporate.
City leaders have been using the "D" word for a few weeks now as they try to persuade voters to pass Measure K, a one-cent sales tax increase that would help the city balance its budget with an extra infusion of $1.4 million per year for the next seven years.
Dissolving Half Moon Bay — handing the city’s budget, operations and services to San Mateo County — would be an absolute last resort, but the city may not have many other options left, City Councilman John Muller said.
"The council has done everything in its power to keep the city whole," Muller said. "If it doesn’t pass, we could seriously not be in business much longer."
Half Moon Bay was never part of the Real Bay Area, what with the pumpkins and the fog and being on the other end of Highway 92. But now they’re talking about quitting as a municipal entity and turning over the keys to San Mateo County. There’s nothing left to pay the bills.
City Manager Michael Dolder admits disincorporation is one of the options on the table now. The City Council already cut $900,000 from the current budget — including half its employees — and imposed furloughs on those who remain. Some of the cuts were needed to pay for the Beachwood lawsuit settlement, a $15 million burden the city will shoulder in bond payments for the next 20 years.
It’s not clear this would bail the residents out of their woes. If San Mateo County steps in, they get the property taxes, the hotel taxes, the sales taxes. But the county doesn’t assume any liabilities. HMB has those bonds outstanding, and the debt would transfer to every city real estate owner, via liens placed on their properties. Another joy of homeownership! Bet you never thought of that one!
"The costs don’t go away just because the cities go away. You still need to provide the services. You still have the same problems out there," explained Bob Adler, Assistant Controller for the county.
Plenty of cities have been cutting services and letting workers go. But there are other cities considering the same thing, most of them nowhere near the RBA. We hope. But Half Moon Bay can’t be the only one, or why would unions be pushing for new legislation preventing cities from disincorporating without explaining why to a commission?
What kind of shape are your city’s services in? What’s been cut?