San Bernardino Seal

Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/13/2013 03:33:11 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – New taxes might be the only way for the city to pay for more than a bare-bones budget and eventually move away from the brink, city officials say, but they’re not planning to ask residents to reach into their pockets anytime soon.

The budget plan the City Council approved in November doesn’t rely on any new revenues for Fiscal Year 2012-13, but it recommends four possible taxes and fees to help the city gather a projected $5.1 million in future years.

At least some of that eventually will be necessary if the city is going to avoid going back into bankruptcy, according to Mayor Pat Morris.

“We need to build a new base for our economy. That’s going to take, no doubt, some revenue enhancements,” Morris said. “What they will amount to is unknown.”

Morris is one of the most forceful advocates for eventual revenue increases on a City Council that’s deeply skeptical of the idea, but even he doesn’t expect people to be convinced San Bernardino deserves more of citizens’ money at this point.

“We have to first of all establish a level of trust in the community that we are good stewards of the public’s funds,” he said. “We have not done well in that regard. We have not been disciplined, and that has been the long-term problem that I have spoke about during my administration.”

First on the agenda, he said, is implementing cuts that were approved by the city but still haven’t been made for various reasons.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is arguing the city shouldn’t qualify for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, partly because its budget plan is balanced only by deferring nearly $34million in payments, compared with about $26million in cuts.

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