Monte fireworks set for Oct. 12 in Capitola

Hotel room tax increase put off; discussion on appointing treasurer July 24
By Jondi Gumz

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CAPITOLA >> A date has been set for the Monte Foundation fireworks fundraiser in Capitola: Oct. 12.

Lisa Murphy, the city’s administrative services manager, announced the date at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

She said the project, to help fund a skate park at the new McGregor Park, is going through the permit process, with plans for a staging area on the wharf.

Councilman Ed Bottorff asked about scheduling the event with school the next day.

Murphy pointed out that Oct. 13 is a holiday.

“Well done,” said Bottorff.

Both Councilmen Michael Termini and Dennis Norton were on vacation and didn’t attend the meeting.

That left Bottorff, councilwoman Stephanie Harlan and Mayor Sam Storey to discuss potential ballot measures in November including switching the treasurer from elected to appointed and raising the hotel room tax from 10 percent to 11 percent, matching the county rate.

Pollster Gene Bregman presented the results of a survey of 240 voters, which was mandated in connection with the new state stormwater requirements and included the potential ballot measures.

The deadline to place a measure on the November ballot is Aug. 8. Neither of the potential ballot measures had majority support.

“I just don’t see the value of the city treasurer’s position,” Harlan said, recalling friction and harsh words between a former treasurer and city staff.

But she didn’t want to put the issue to the voters, saying, “Obviously voters don’t support it.”

The survey found 44 percent in favor of appointing the treasurer and 41 percent opposed, with 44 percent of likely voters opposed and 43 percent in favor.

Two residents, Sandy Erickson and Kathi Howard, spoke in favor of electing the treasurer.

“It’s a coin toss, it depends on who lobbies the hardest,” said Bottorff, who said he felt it would be more efficient to have an appointed treasurer.

Storey felt the measure would be divisive.

He noted 58 percent of the voters surveyed were positive on the city’s financial management while 75 percent were positive on city services overall and observed the treasurer provides an independent voice.

He wanted to reserve judgment until the finance advisory committee presents its recommendation July 24.

Neither Harlan nor Storey wanted to pursue the hotel room tax increase.

“Wait until Measure D expires,” said Storey, referring to the sales tax that ends in 2017.

Bottorff saw the room tax increase as a source of revenue for the long-desired parking structure in Capitola Village.

Storey liked Bottorff’s idea of earmarking the revenue but noted a higher yes vote would be needed for passage.

Bregman noted 53 percent of those surveyed vote by absentee ballot, and only 21 percent with children younger than age 18 in the household.

Harlan said the survey results showing 38 percent were not familiar with stormwater pollution indicated a need for education.

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