Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local

Chula Vista will lose $25 million a year in infrastructure funding by 2027

Chula Vista Civic Center
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
File photo of Chula Vista Civic Center, Oct. 21, 2021.

When the Measure P sales tax sunsets in 2027, Chula Vista will lose approximately $25 million in annual tax revenues. But the city will still be responsible for maintaining its deteriorating infrastructure.

The current mayor and City Council have not put forth a plan on how the city will fill the $25 million void when Measure P expires.

Councilmember Jill Galvez, who is running for mayor, said the city will need to continue to invest in infrastructure — particularly as the city’s east side grows older.

“We’re going to see that the eastern parts of Chula Vista start to age,” she said. “The Rancho del Rey neighborhood was built in the '80s. Eastlake was built in the late '80s. That infrastructure is also aging.”

Still, Galvez said she’s more focused on how to spend Measure P money now than she is on what will happen when the measure sunsets.

“Measure P, yes, that’s a big issue,” she said. “But that’s an issue not to cause panic today. It’s an issue we need to be grateful for, and mindful of, and spend those dollars wisely so we get the most out of them.”

Galvez said new developments such as the Chula Vista Bayfront and the opening of more hotels should help increase both sales and hotel tax revenues.

Measure P was the first of two sales tax increases Chula Vista voters approved in 2017 and 2018. The second, Measure A, was to hire more police officers and firefighters.

City officials told voters at the time that without these tax increases, the city wouldn’t be able to repair roads or maintain public safety staffing. Chula Vista has an 8.75% sales tax, which is tied for the highest in San Diego County with National City, Imperial Beach and Del Mar.

Councilmember John McCann, who is also running for mayor, said it is likely that the city would simply ask voters to renew Measure P.

McCann said that technically speaking, that wouldn’t be considered a new tax.

“I’m not in favor of new taxes,” he said. “Measure P was adopted by over 60% of the voters. It is not a new tax. I believe the voters will have the opportunity to renew Measure P in the future.”

Other mayoral candidates said the city shouldn’t have to continually ask residents to tax themselves for basic municipal services. They believe the city should work to boost tax revenues over the next five years in order to make up for the loss of Measure P.

Former City Councilmember Rudy Ramirez said the city needs to prioritize business development.

“If we’re not successful at generating the economic development over the next four years, then it will be back to the days of deferred maintenance and a lot of infrastructure projects are not going to get done, or the taxpayer may want another opportunity to bring that back,” he said.

Ramirez added he wouldn’t favor another tax increase.

Zaneta Encarnacion said current projects already under development, like the Chula Vista Bayfront, will help raise tax revenues. But even a big project like that will not be enough to cover all of the city’s financial responsibilities.

She said the city can’t simply hope that the development solves its financial issues. They need to be proactive and find other ways to generate more tax revenues.

“It’s really going to be on us, the mayor and council, on how we plan for 2027,” she said. “The bayfront will be great, by then it will be generating a lot more revenue for the city. But it’s not going to be enough for that.”

Ammar Campa-Najjar also hopes the city avoids asking residents for another sales tax increase.

“I think we’ll need to see where we are at that point,” he said. “But our hope is that we’ve grown our revenue base enough to not have to need the increased sales tax.”

Campa-Najjar said the city should position itself to get as much money out of the federal government’s Build Back Better Plan.

That money is specifically for the type of infrastructure projects currently funded by Measure P.