Tax protest- Rally rips proposed tax shift- Warren Wilkes
Rally rips proposed tax shift By DAVID RICHIE Of The Press-Tribune SACRAMENTO A series of speakers lashed Gov. Pete Wilson and predicted dire consequences Wednesday during a Capitol rally against the proposed shifting of $2.6 billion in property taxes away from local government. About l.OOOlocal government employees, elected officials and residents who depend on local social services attended the rally. They were urged to take their concerns inside and demand answers from their state legislators. Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said an estimated 55,000 people may lose their jobs if the tax shift is allowed to happen. "Governor Wilson can make this state go into bankruptcy if he takes our tax money," Carson said. Another possible economic impact was discussed by Clifford Allenby, former secretary of the state Health and Welfare Agency, who now handles governmental affairs for the California Building Industry Association. Allenby pointed out that each newhomebuiltbrings with it an additional need for local government services supposedly covered by local property taxes. "If it is redistributed, each home built will not bring money for services, it will only bring problems," Allenby said. "If this property tax shift or rip-off or whatever you want to call it is allowed to occur, it will strangle our industry." Police and fire services may also be crippled. Warren Wilkes, chief of the Ebbetts Pass Fire District in Calaveras County, predicted that many rural fire departments may be forced to close stations and cut back on personnel. Joint efforts between rural and state firefighters suppress hundreds of wildfires each year that have the potential to roar out of control and turn into major blazes. Once a conflagration like the Old Gulch Fire last year in Calaveras starts, local agencies rely on mutual aid from firefighters throughout the state. That mutual aid safety net may also he weakened by the prop- n it -J mm i"i 1 ur 9 t iip! mmm i mge-rwm it- . - "'" , J . . .... ., : 1 If f. Jim Denman Press-Tribune Protesters crowd around the north steps of the State Capitol Wednesday listening as problems are predicted if $2.6 billion in local property tax money is shifted to state government. erty tax shift, according to Wilkes. Sacramento County Supervisor Gran tl and Johnson said the proposed property tax shift is indicative of a malaise evident in not just the governor's office but throughout the state government system. He noted that the real services for mental health, substance abuse and other problems are provided on the local level. State agencies dealing with those problems may be duplicative and ripe for trimming, Johnson suggested. Johnson also said that state budgeteers should maintain the extra half-cent sales tax. "If you are serious about reforms, make some reforms restructure state government," Johnson said. "These guys don't have a clue. It's like the yellow brick road runs right up their backs." Despite all the noise outside, it was business as usual in the fifth floor offices of Assemblyman David Knowles. The assemblyman was out of the office, hopping between committee meetings and scheduled ap pearances, according to Rick Staats, Knowles' district director. Knowles is on record opposing the property tax shift but he also opposes maintaining the half cent sales tax. Knowles' staff was expecting a busy afternoon. Don Lunsford, Placer County chief executive, attended the rally. Noting that he saw the rally on a CNN news program Wednesday night, Lunsford said that media coverage of the issue may be the most important result.