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Monday, July 8, 2013
Time for ‘cynical’ reality check
Bob McCaffrey, Guest Columnist
Last April, in a Register column, Mayor Keith Curry called me a “cynical and mediocre” taxpayer for questioning the cost of the Taj Mahal/Civic Center.
still one of those mediocre taxpayers, because I continue to question the decisions of our big-government politicians.
And yes, I plead guilty to being cynical. I’m sorry if I make the mayor’s Lincoln Club meetings uncomfortable by publicly questioning his big tax-andspend ways.
Now our good mayor wrote a column in the June 21 Current talking about the city’s new $279 million budget and how it “limits spending.” Really?
According to city budget documents, total spending in 2003 was $104 million. A mere decade later it’s $261 million, a 151 percent increase.
The same budget documents show that in 2003, total revenue from all sources was $110 million. This year it’s $254 million, a 131 percent increase.
Our population in 2003 was 80,000. This year it’s 87,000 – a 9 percent increase resulting from the annexation of Newport Coast and its multimillion-dollar homes that generate a surplus for the city.
How did we double the budget and double revenues in just 10 years? We elected big-government, big-budget, big-ego politicians.
This year, and every year for the next three decades, they will spend $8 million of your hard-earned tax dollars on the new Taj Mahal (that’s $22,000 for each and every day for 10,950 days). In the good mayor’s world of “limited spending,” that’s a deal.
And our big-government mayor structured the financing so the electorate never got a chance to vote on the 30-year debt, resulting in a $228 million monument to ego and excess.
Stanford University estimates the city’s unfunded pension liability at $265 million – the highest per capita in Orange County. When you combine the Taj Mahal debt with our unfunded pension liability, this council that has basically been in power for the last decade has left our children with almost $500 million in long-term debt.
Most of the current council members joined the council in the middle of the last decade, the mayor in 2006.
Midway through their first terms, they wrestled to the ground a raft of fee increases on the public, generating a profit for government that would make Karl Marx proud.
The good mayor crows about the city’s $118 million surplus, as if the role of government is to pile up profit. Only a big-government politician would brag about the “profit” the city has amassed.
They should stop profiting off the residents and businesses and reduce taxes and fees.
To put this in perspective, Costa Mesa, a full-service city with its own police and fire department and a population of 112,000, has a total general fund budget of $132 million.
The mayor talks about reducing 100 employees during these difficult times. If they were nonessential, why did we have them in the first place? The bureaucrats play games with employee numbers every time scrutiny is upon them.
But you can’t fib to Wall Street when you borrow $130 million for the Taj. Two years ago we had 1,004 full-time employees, according to the city’s bond disclosure documents. Far in excess of the head count our big-government mayor discusses. We have the highest employee-to-resident ratio in Orange County – creating a legacy cost structure that is unsustainable.
We are home to $200,000 lifeguards and a librarian who makes more than the governor of California.
This council, led by the mayor, has accrued more long-term debt than all of the councils combined since the city incorporated in 1906.
I can only conclude that they tax too much, borrow too much, spend too much and regulate too much. Big government is alive and well in Newport Beach.
The mayor has said I am part of a small cadre of mediocre cynics. Here’s the mayor’s city telephone number: 949-644-0800; and email address: [email protected] . Am I really a minority? Whether you’re for or against the spending, call or email the mayor and give him your personal opinion, and we’ll see.
– Bob McCaffrey is chairman of Stop the Dock Tax and the Newport Beach Dock Owners Association.
FILE PHOTO: STEVEN GEORGES, FOR THE REGISTER Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry speaks to the crowd at the opening of the new Newport Beach Civic Center in May.
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