May 4, 2010
CONTACT: Lani Lutar,
619-234-6423 or email@example.com
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
619-997-2495 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Stealth” Crash Taxes Coming Down the Road in South Bay Cities
Chula Vista, National City poised to impose taxation on responsible parties in vehicle accidents
(San Diego) – Despite a stealth attempt to pass crash taxes on Chula Vista residents at Tuesday night’s council meeting, the measure was not brought up for a vote tonight as originally planned thanks to a quick call to action by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and numerous citizens who answered the call to speak out against this ill-conceived measure.
No reason was publicly given for the removal of the crash tax item from the Chula Vista City Council docket.
However, a similar crash tax proposed for non-residents found to be at fault in vehicle accidents in National City passed its first reading tonight. It is scheduled to return for a final vote some time in June.
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association strongly opposes these attempts by government agencies to charge twice for providing a service already funded through taxes.
If these plans are adopted, the Cities of Chula Vista and National City would contract with the private firm Fire Recovery USA, LLC, to provide billing and collection services for fees ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars to cover the costs of responding to car accidents, including the costs of fire personnel and cleaning up hazardous liquids at the scene of an accident.
These fees would range from $435 for “scene safety and investigation” up to $5,000 depending on the severity of the accident. In Chula Vista, the fees would apply to any responsible party; in National City, the fees would apply only to non-residents.
“Not only do we object to hitting up taxpayers for more money for services they already pay for, we’re dismayed at the sneaky, stealthy way these items were placed on the agenda,” said Lani Lutar, President & CEO of SDCTA. “The average taxpayer would never have found out about these proposals, and even our Association learned about them less than 24 hours in advance.”
“While the notification met legal requirements, particularly in National City this poor disclosure flies in the face of good government practices of transparency and honest dialogue,” declared Lutar.
Lutar said that citizens must remain vigilant and fight these ill-considered measures. “No matter whether residents or non-residents get charged, these crash taxes are a reckless idea. It’s double taxation, and a very slippery slope. Once one city passes these fees, the rest will likely follow.”
“We’re already observing a trend in what’s happened tonight,” Lutar points out. “Elected officials claim they need the additional revenue because of the recession’s impact on the budget. But what happens when the economy recovers? Will the fees go away? Of course not! We warn elected officials everywhere that we’ll call these efforts to the attention of their constituents, and they should all think long and hard before crashing toward them,” declared Lutar.
Lutar said a more sensible solution is to explore consolidating smaller fire agencies into a larger, more cost-efficient agency such as the merging of fire administration services by the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, and Lemon Grove; and to require employees to contribute more toward their city-funded pension programs.
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary new taxes and fees. Founded in 1945, SDCTA has spent the past 65 years saving the region’s taxpayers millions of dollars, as well as generating information to help educate the public.