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Vista May Turn Off The Lights To Balance The Budget

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Aired 2/15/11

The City of Vista holds a budget workshop this morning to figure out how to plug a $9 million budget gap. The measures should get residents’ attention.

The City of Vista holds a budget workshop this morning to figure out how to plug a $9 million budget gap. The measures should get residents’ attention.

Vista Council members have already decided to take one of their ambulances out of service.

They will also turn off half the street lights in residential areas, starting in March.

City Spokeswoman Andrea McCullough said the city hasn't raised the fees for street lighting since 1996, and is now subsidizing the cost to the tune of nearly $400,000. The city can’t raise fees for street lighting without an election, and residents haven’t returned enough petitions to force an election.

"It could be that they don’t realize how it affects them," McCullough said. "And so it could be that after the lights are turned off, that they may decide they want to pay between $4 and $20 on their property tax. “

McCullough says the Council will also consider whether to adopt an emergency response fee, or “crash tax,” to help cover the cost of responding to traffic accidents. Motorists from out of town involved in an accident would have to cover the cost of police and ambulance response. However, the city of Oceanside has found the amount raised by a crash tax approved last year generated far less than predicted.

Senior programs and youth sports are also on the table.

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