Chantal M. Lovell, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/20/2010 07:09:56 PM PDT

The two tea parties in Redlands are beginning a push to make their voices and concerns heard locally.

Members from the Redlands Tea Party Patriots and Redlands Townhall Patriots attended the evening session of Tuesday’s City Council meeting to make it known they do not support a sales tax hike proposed for the November ballot.

They said Tuesday’s participation is just the beginning of what they foresee as more involvement on the local level.

“The Redlands Tea Party and Town Hall Patriots have become an active force over the last two years and will be focused and vocal on local issues,” the party board members wrote in a letter to the council. “We will support those candidates that demonstrate – not just talk about – good governance. And we will work against those City Council members who insist on breaking pledges not to raise taxes and show an illegitimate understanding of prudent fiscal behavior.”

Sandy Ziegler, a Redlands Tea Party Patriots cabinet member, the groups have been more active on a county, state and national level, but the proposed half-cent sales tax increase has inspired them to focus their attention at home in Redlands.

“There’s a saying that `All politics is local.’ You’ve got to start at home first,” Ziegler said. “One of our main tenants is fiscal responsibility. We feel there needs to be more accountability. Let’s start to live within our means.”

Fellow cabinet member Phillip Naman said the proposed tax hike will not solve the city’s financial problems and will discourage people from doing business in Redlands.

“Take (Hatfield Buick-GMC),” Naman said. “If it’s going to cost me an extra $1,000 or $500 for a new car because of the tax, I’m going to buy it from a location in Ontario.”

Naman said when people conduct their business outside Redlands to avoid a higher sales tax, it not only hurts the business that loses the sale, but the city, which loses the tax.

“To enhance city revenues you need to make Redlands a place people want to do business in, which includes running a cost efficient city,” board members wrote to the city. “Business owners and homeowners need to be free of unwarranted additional expenses and redtape.”

Tea party members said they understand the importance of taxes and why they are needed, but do not believe raising taxes is the solution to Redlands’ problems.

“The city cannot tax itself into prosperity,” the letter said. “We as a city do not have as much of a revenue problem as we do a spending problem. The City is no longer concerned with simply providing the basics and allowing private enterprise to grow. Instead the city has micromanaged private industry while growing a tax burden through poor contract decisions and projections that tax revenue would never fall.”

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