Claire McGreal | Stratford Court
Del Mar is unique in many respects. There is no other local city where 4,000 residents host 5 million annual visitors. Our city graciously offers a world-class beach, and many visitor-serving businesses such as hotels, restaurants, spas and shops. The City bears the cost of fire, sheriff, community services, lifeguards, sidewalks, roads, beaches and parks for our visitors and residents alike. These services comprise much of our City budget of $13 million per year. It’s time for visitors to pay their fair share of city expenses in Del Mar.
Visitors pay at least 80% of sales taxes in Del Mar. Residents pay only the remaining 20%. (Note: Del Mar lacks many resident-serving businesses such as grocery, department, drug and hardware stores. We pay taxes out of town because that is where most of our shopping is done, so our sales taxes go to other municipalities.)
At present Del Mar collects an 8% sales tax, with the first 7% going directly to the state and county. Only 1% is retained by the city. If we increase the sales tax by 1%, the entirety of the increase will remain in the city to go toward important capital improvement projects that have been unfunded and deferred for years. For example, city-wide undergrounding of utility wires has been an important goal since the1976 Community Plan. Yet city-wide undergrounding remains incomplete and unfunded after all these years. Similarly, the development of Shores Park also remains unfunded as well as important Streetscape projects which will make the community more pedestrian-friendly.
With the incremental 1% increase in the sales tax, we can afford these items and others in our capital budget sooner than later.
Now is the time for Del Mar to increase its sales tax rate. There is a cap on what the City can charge for sales tax. The County could step in and impose an increase to the Del Mar sales tax to help pay for a new football stadium, or some other costly item that would not benefit Del Mar. Such a prospect is not far-fetched, if the proposed TOT increase in San Diego fails.
Vote “Yes” on Measure “Q” to increase the sales tax in Del Mar by 1%. Visitors will pay more than 80% of a sales tax increase, and Del Mar would have funds for undergrounding, Shores Park development, street improvements and other high priority capital projects. These improvements will make Del Mar even more beautiful and more safe for residents, visitors and merchants.