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Grogan seeks support for tax task force

August 08, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — El Centro Mayor Pro Tem Larry Grogan asked the Calexico City Council to join a countywide task force that would look into imposing a quarter-cent tax throughout the Imperial Valley.

While taxes are "not a popular item to bring up," Grogan said the revenue taken in by the tax could be used by local cities to buy new police and fire vehicles.

Calexico Mayor Victor Carrillo said Calexico would like to participate in any discussions a task force has "so that Calexico's voice can be heard."

Calexico Mayor Pro Tem John Renison had some concerns with the possibility the tax money would be divided between local cities by population if approved by voters in the March 2002 election.

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"We enjoy 40,000 daily visitors from Mexicali and I think we have to look at all the possibilities before making a decision," Renison said.

Grogan mentioned a population formula to divvy up the cash because El Centro and Calexico would capture the lion's share of revenue from a point of sale increase.

A point of sale tax would be meet with skepticism by Calexicans who think they were undercounted in the recent census and burned by the half-cent sales tax of 1992 that was to have provided medical care at Calexico Hospital, according to City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva.

If the tax isn't divided by population, Grogan suggested it could be similar to "the transit tax we have."

He said it is imperative for local municipalities to look into additional sources of revenue because everyone "wishes to have police and fire protection."

Grogan said El Centro is paying for 25 police vehicles with borrowed money.

He said if that pattern were to continue, the city could end up paying more than $700,000 a year for police and fire vehicles.

Grogan made a similar appeal before the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. He proposed the county join the task force and consider a quarter-cent sales tax increase countywide that could be used to increase police and fire protection services, as well as be used for capital improvements.

"This problem is absolutely not unique to the city of El Centro," he told the supervisors.

Grogan said the issue is a common one throughout the Valley. He asked county officials to think about joining the task force, how the money generated might be shared equitably and whether the tax should be a general one or a special one.

A general tax requires a simple majority at an election, while a special tax requires a two-thirds majority.

Grogan is expected to visit the other Valley's city councils with the same request.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez contributed to this report. He can be reached at 337-3440.

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