Where are our taxes going? Most of the taxes we pay go to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. In fact, considering income taxes, property and sales taxes paid by Morro Bay residents — well over 90-percent of our taxes leave the City.
While the City can’t do much about that, we can spend the tax revenue the City receives wisely, and on items the community identifies as worthy of spending. Here’s an update on some projects around Morro Bay that were identified by the community and approved by the City Council.
• Sidewalk Repair. In January, the Council approved $60,000 of surplus transient occupancy taxes or TOT be spent to fix our troubled sidewalks in our most heavily used areas. The City is completing sidewalk repairs at some 30 of the worst locations, those in the Downtown and along the Embarcadero with an uplift or gap of over 2 inches. Further work grinding uplift in other locations will continue.
• Tree Trimming. Like sidewalks, many of our residents and business owners rightfully requested more frequent trimming of our street trees, especially the red flowering eucalyptus that, while beautiful, require a lot of maintenance. Last month, after bird nesting season ended, a City contractor completed $25,000 of additional tree trimming. This was in addition to $58,000 spent in the previous fiscal year. This year, we are increasing our tree trimming by 50%.
• Trash Cans and Collection. Last week, the City distributed additional permanent trash receptacles in our business districts, increasing the total number of trash cans in public areas by 20%. Each new can includes a recycling bin, and some 25 recycling bins were added around town.
• Street Paving and Repair. The City is preparing the “biennial street paving program,” which combines street repair monies from last fiscal year and this year, an approach that allows us to pave more streets than we would if we paved every year. We are planning for almost $1 million in street paving and repair in October and November.
Public input at our streets “mini-summit” in June helped form this year’s program. A full streets summit is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14 to provide the community more information on the state of our streets, of our street repair budget, and the proposed Countywide streets “self-help” half-percent sales tax increase — Measure J on the November ballot.
• Energy Efficient HVAC and Solar Installation. The City is completing a $560,000 installation of new energy-efficient HVAC and solar energy systems on a number of City buildings. Importantly, except for the time of the engineering staff spent on planning efforts, the cost of the project to the City is negligible. The project is funded by a special program in which the City receives a 0%-interest loan, and then pays off the loan over a number of years, with the savings generated by a combination of lower electric bills due to the energy-efficient HVAC system and the generation of solar electricity.
• National Citizen Survey. More than 500 Morro Bay residents participated in the recently concluded, “National Citizen Survey.” This survey is a comprehensive tool that will help the City know where to focus resources in the future. It also establishes a baseline so that we can see improvement year to year. The complete survey results are available online at: www.morrobayca.gov/953/National-Citizen-Survey.
While certainly not perfect, the City is working hard to continue to improve the look and feel of our community, for residents, businesses, and visitors all. I look forward to hearing your ideas at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Buckingham is the city manager of Morro Bay. His “A View From Harbor Street” column is a regular feature of The Bay News. Send Letters to the Editor to: email@example.com.