LOMPOC, Calif. - The City of Lompoc, like many other cities and counties on the Central Coast, is faced with the harsh reality of an unfunded pension liability now estimated at about $70 million and rising every month.
The Lompoc City Council must decide where the city is going to find the money to adequately fund its pension obligations, either through drastic cuts in city services, including police and fire protection, or through raising local taxes or a combination of both.
City staff is recommending the Council approve a ballot measure for November 2018 that would ask city voters to raise the local sales tax by a half-cent, increase the Transient Occupancy Tax, or bed-tax, by two percent to a total of 12% and increase the city utilities user tax by six percent.
The additional revenue is expected to put the city back on solid financial footing in the near and long term and stave off potential bankruptcy.
Not everyone agrees with the strategy and voiced their opinions on the budget before the City Council meeting Tuesday night.
"Even with doing the cuts at the right places perhaps like many of you want to do, or raising taxes with a tax package, its not enough", said Lompoc resident Tim Smith, "we're still going to need more, we're very far behind and we're only getting, further, and further, and further behind as a city, we have to very careful that the city doesn't stall."
"There's no bailout, there's no "let's raise taxes", so what would happen is we would have to lower our workforce, consolidate", added another local man who did not identify himself, "the CEO's and executives, would take a 25 percent pay cut, and maybe more."
The budget dilemma comes as Lompoc is enjoying robust economic activity in the city on all fronts including sales and property tax and TOT revenue.
The City Council is expected to make a final decision on its new two year budget and the proposed tax increase ballot measure in the coming days.