A lesson in Eureka’s Tax War on the Poor

no pain

Regressive Tax:

A tax with a rate that decreases as the taxpayer’s income increases.

The result of a regressive tax is that the lower-income taxpayer pays a larger percentage of his or her income in taxes than does the higher-income taxpayer. The opposite of the regressive tax is the progressive tax. With progressive taxes, such as the federal Income Tax, the effective tax rates increase as the taxpayer’s income increases. The proportionate tax rate, also referred to as a flat tax rate, remains constant as income rises. Under a proportionate tax system, higher-income individuals pay a greater amount of taxes than lower-income individuals pay, but the ratio is identical.

Consumption taxes, which are taxes on consumer goods and services, are usually regressive because individuals with lower incomes spend a larger portion of their income on these goods and services than higher-income individuals do.

With The Regressives in full control of the Eureka City Council, is it any wonder that they want to make permanent a Regressive Tax like Measure O?

Using this special tax to actually fund public safety as a emergency measure in 2010, during the peak of the great recession seemed like a viable argument at the time. Four years later the conditions are not as dire as they were, yet this Council and it’s “oracle newspaper” wants you to believe that without renewing this special tax we all going to hell in hand basket. Adding to that is the fact that there are no additional transparency measures being added to this extension.

A Pinnacle example of a Regressive outcome is the object of “local elitists pride” the Eureka Zoo. The zoo is funded disproportionately by Eureka poor. The majority of its visitors doesn’t live here and are assessed only incidentally. Many of Eureka’s poor don’t even have the ability to visit the Zoo.

The fair way to fund the Zoo would be a specific assessment district, based on its actual service area. This, of course, would need a vote and that would mean that there would actually have to be the wide spread support that’s always claimed for the zoo!

Times-Standard now the mouth piece for Eureka’s Good Ol’ Boyz



38 thoughts on “A lesson in Eureka’s Tax War on the Poor

  1. Well Bing-O!

    Yes they are funding the special interest Zoo out of the General fund because that’s the only way they can do it. Taxpayers wont vote a penny increase in tax to fund a zoo! While at the same time trying to get special funding for what should be basic fundamental government operations.

    Its Bass – ackwards.

    Its time to ask the Klown Kownsil: “Have you ever run a business?”


  2. This would be a good start !! My only suggestion would be to add the Chamber of Commerce so people could vote on the money that the City gives them each year. With the Chamber so “right” leaning I’m confused why need public assistance to help them float their business plan ??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that the basic problem with funding the zoo is the “free rider” problem. Eureka taxpayers subsidize it, the rest of the county (and the rest of the incorporated cities in the county) doesn’t fund it, but their residents use it.

    So either have those non-Eureka residents kick in their fair share in taxes (it would actually be very little per person) or charge them a few bucks extra at the gate. Either one of those would be more fair than the status quo.

    Yes, Measure O and most sales taxes (except for “luxury taxes” such as on the sales of yachts and such) are regressive, but the one advantage sales taxes do have — especially in cities like Eureka that have an influx of of tens of thousands of workers, shoppers and other visitors every day — is that they capture some revenue from those out-of-towners who use the city during the day, then return to their homes outside the city at night (where they don’t pay city property taxes that help keep the city running).

    The other main options are property tax and income tax. Prop 13 has decimated property tax revenues and severely restricts the amount the City can raise in property taxes from its residents, and the chances of city voters approving an income tax seem pretty remote to me.

    So, again, the question is, if you want to let Measure O expire, where would you turn to make up for the loss of $3 million – $4 million a year? Even if the City stopped spending a dime on the zoo, as I recall the City currently spends something like $700,000 a year on the zoo, so even if the city completely cut that off, you’d still be looking for several million more dollars. What else would the Tuluwat Tea Party suggest cutting? Or what other kind of tax would they suggest to make up the gap?


  4. Old Sam:

    Your confusion is understandable. I’ll try to sort it out:

    When you give assistance to those who need it you are contributing to the Welfare State that is Destroying America (WHY do you hate America?).

    When you give assistance to those who don’t need it you are contributing to a strong economy.

    Hope that helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The selective outrage about “regressive taxes” and Measure O in Eureka is pretty funny, given the fact that highly “progressive” Arcata added $.75 to their sales taxes a few years back, but for some reason you don’t see the Tuluwat Examiner getting its panties in a bunch about that:


    The overall sales tax rate in the City of Arcata is 8.25%. Of this amount, 7.25% is the State’s sales and use tax, 0.75% is the City’s additional transactions and use tax and 0.25% is the temporary State of California sales tax which was passed in November 2012. In order to determine if an address is located in the City of Arcata limits and is subject to the City’s transactions and use tax, please check the City of Arcata Street Address List.


    Additional transactions and use tax? Hey that sounds a lot like Measure O. That’s because it is a lot like Measure O. In Arcata it was was called Measure G:

    Measure G Update

    The voters of the City of Arcata approved a three-quarter percent retail transactions and use tax in the November 2008 General Election (“Measure G”). As a result, the overall sales tax rate in the City of Arcata increased by 0.75% over the regular State sales tax rate beginning April 1, 2009. The increased tax is estimated to generate approximately $1.5 million per year, and will be used to fund City Council identified needs, including transportation projects, infrastructure improvements, public safety, and improvements to City facilities and services.

    (Same source.)


  6. Current sales tax in Eureka (including Measure O)..8.25%.

    Tuluwat Examiner: Outrage!

    Current sales tax in Arcata (including Measure G)…8.25%

    Tuluwat Examiner: (crickets)


  7. Wow, I didn’t realize Arcata had sold their sales tax on funding the public safety. And I must have missed the Times Standard editorials about Arcata being unlivable without additional revenue. Thanks 2:01.


  8. Seems ironic that we use tax money for the zoo that carries the “Arkley” name over it as you walk in, yes i know they funded part of the remodel, when Rob himself keeps his finances out of California because of what he yells are high taxes. So we built something that now costs this city more than what it can afford so we need special tax money for it ???


  9. Arcata definitely “sold” their Measure G sales tax increase as funding for public safety in addition to other city services. Just as Eureka did.

    I don’t remember which newspapers may have editorialized in favor of Measure G or how dire their warnings were.

    One difference is that I think Arcata actually did form a separate oversight committee for Measure G, though I’m not actually sure about that. Probably wouldn’t be too hard to find out though.

    Either way, the fact remains — Eureka’s sales tax rate, including Measure O, is the same as Arcata’s sales tax rate, including Measure G.

    I would love to see sales taxes lowered, since it’s certainly true that they are regressive, but I have yet to hear any realistic ideas on where the City should make up the majority of the lost revenue.

    Even if the City cut every dollar it spends on the zoo and the visitor’s center, that would still leave more than $3 million dollars of lost revenue. Where is that going to come from, if not from cutting important city services?

    It’s a classic Tea Party trick to demand a big tax cut, and then when asked how to pay for it just offer a couple of examples of things you don’t like and think should be cut, but which come nowhere even close to making up for the loss of revenues that the tax cut in question would involve.


  10. There is no “selective outrage” here. The poor people are taxed enough, No more. No mas. You will have significant opposition from the left if you try to push this bs through again. I don’t care about the Tea Party. They should oppose it too if they have any sense.


  11. “The poor people are taxed enough, No more. No mas. ”

    No one is proposing to raise the existing sales tax rate in Eureka, they are just keep it the same as it is now, which, again, is the same as it is in Arcata. Renewing an existing tax at the same rate is “No more. No mas.”

    What you’re demanding is a 4 million dollar tax cut, and you’re demanding it without saying how you’d make up for the majority of the lost revenue. Classic Tea Party bullcrap. You want a tax cut? Then say what you’re willing to cut to prevent the need for that revenue. If your proposed budget cuts don’t add up to the amount of taxes you’re demanding be cut, then you’re full of it.


  12. I’m willing to cut funding for the zoo, funding for pet projects designed to benefit unincorporated Eureka, ” infrastructure” that equates to empty retail space, funding the chamber of commerce, paying for public works employees to do work at the zoo, paying city employees and using city funds for religious activity, and subsidizing poor management skills from folks such as Dave Tyson who has cost the city hundreds of thousands in lawsuits. That’s just a start and it took 2 minutes. People much smarter than me could find a lot more waste to cut.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. No. I am advocating the sunset of what was sold as a TEMPORARY FIX.

    If you insist on calling that a tax cut no one will believe you.

    I am not demanding anything. I am saying that if you try to push through an extension of this temporary tax that is obviously designed to cover up true condition of Eurekas finances, which are in a shambles, I and a lot of us on the left will oppose it. We think you are wasting the money.

    I don’t know about you but I plan on talking to a couple thousand voters in Eureka this summer and I am going to share my thoughts with them.

    As I already told you Joe Six pac no longer wants to pay any more taxes. I don’t especially like that coz I am a socialist but its a fact on the ground and I have to honor it or I am stupid. I am not stupid.

    What many of you don’t understand is that things have changed. We represent the working poor. The working poor have some representation, some voice, for the first time in years. We do not advocate for the “middle class” we advocate for the “working poor.” The “middle class ” has two (2) whole political parties that claim to advocate for the “middle class”

    Do you understand that the numbers of the working poor are growing rapidly and the numbers of the “middle class” are declining? Of course you do but the reality hasn’t set in for you yet.

    The “working poor” are tired of having society’s tax burdens heaped upon them. What I am telling you is find another solution or you will be resisted.
    Ancient Rome had a sales tax, it was 1 per cent.

    sugar tax, soda tax, tax on vacant buildings. time to think outside the box because the old approaches will stop working soon if they haven’t already.

    rock and hard place I know. I am trying to help you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Green horned Anonymous
    City of Arcata’s ad campaign told the truth straight up about Measure G:
    A three-quarter cent sales tax for GENERAL GOVERNMENTAL purposes, such as:
    Filling potholes, maintaining and repairing city streets;
    Increasing police staffing to improve downtown, Plaza, city forest, and park safety;
    Improving pedestrian and bicycle safety and enhancing community and neighborhood safety;
    Providing safer sidewalks, pathways to schools, bicycle lanes, and wheelchair access.

    Unlike Eureka’s The Measure O campaign which was simply “Measure O for Public Safety”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. still anon and highrolla:

    Could not have put the case better myself (and I have tried).


    Liked by 2 people

  16. I live in Arcata, my impression is that many people figured the tax increase was no big deal because most sales taxes are paid by HSU students for restaurants/bars/thrift shops/frivolous purchases and growers for soil/fertilizer/supplies. Not much big ticket retail in Arcata for locals to buy. Hotel tax increases are also popular because it’s paid almost entirely by non-residents. But that tax provides less public benefits because the Chamber always insists that most of it is sent back to their members as ‘promotion’.

    I think its a fool’s errand to believe its possible to direct a Government revenue stream to a particular purpose unless it totally and solely funds that purpose. Otherwise, once staff knows where your money is going, it becomes part of their baseline and other funds are diverted away. Takes a few years for that to happen and after it does, there’s no going back. And that’s the reason for the TS editorial. A similar editorial appeared in the Arcata Eye when measure O was put on the ballot. BTW measure O lasts 20 years.


  17. highrolla,

    You’re comparing apples to oranges. For Arcata you listed all the details, for Eureka you just summarized your impression of what the main focus of the campaign was. Yes, the main focus of the campaign was public safety — and that’s what the vast majority of the Measure O funds have gone towards, so that seems like an appropriate outcome to me. But the zoo, parks, street maintenance, etc., were mentioned plenty in the campaign, and the language voters were looking, right there on the ballot when the majority of them voted “yes,” was:

    “Shall the Eureka Municipal Code be amended to add a one-half of a percent (0.50%) supplemental transaction and use tax to fund essential services such as police, fire, medical response, street maintenance, environmental programs, zoo, parks and recreation…”

    You would have to be illiterate, or at least incapable of reading and understanding English, to read the words on the ballot and come away thinking that the money would only be spent on public safety, with none at all going to anything else. I just don’t think most voters are anywhere near that stupid. Apparently you disagree, which is fine, though kinda sad.

    Yes, the Measure O campaign gave the voters the (entirely accurate) impression that the majority of the funds would go to public safety, which the vast majority in fact did. But both the campaign and the language on the ballot was quite clear that parks and neighborhood services would get some funding from it as well. Pretending otherwise is just inaccurate historical revisionism.


  18. “still anon” said: “If you insist on calling that a tax cut no one will believe you.”

    Sales tax in Eureka is currently 8.25%. If Measure O is allowed to expire, the sales tax will be 7.25%. That is less taxes, also known a cut in taxes, also known as a tax cut. So yes, you are asking for a tax cut, whether that language makes you uncomfortable or not doesn’t change that fact. It’s also true that this cut in taxes would be a result of letting a temporary tax expire, as opposed to repealing a tax that had no sunset clause. But the effect is the same, the tax rate would be cut from it’s current 8.25% down to 7.25%.

    As far as the plight of the working poor and regressive nature of tax cuts, you’re preaching to the choir. But “sin taxes” tend to be very regressive too, whether they’re on alcohol or tobacco or sugar or soft drinks. I guess the argument there is that at least people can refrain from those things if they want. But if the tax discourages people from buying these items, then it doesn’t raise the projected revenue. If it doesn’t discourage them from buying these items, then it just functions as another highly regressive tax on the poor. That’s because the habits we decide to call “sins” and therefore tax the heck out of always seem to turn out to be the habits of the poor and working poor. Now if you wanted to increase taxes on high-end champagne, wine and cigars, and yachts, caviar, expensive cars and jewelry, that would be another matter. But you wouldn’t raise much money around here with a tax like that.

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a “vacancy tax” because I recognize the problem with having people hanging onto vacant properties for long periods of time as some kind of tax dodge — that’s very unhelpful to the community. I’d have to know more about the details (for instance how long a building would have to be vacant before the penalty kicked in, and how much it was) but at least in principle, and if it was structured well, it sounds like it might be a useful idea.

    I appreciate that you’re trying to think “outside the box.” But the fact remains, if you and your friends manage to defeat the replacement for Measure O, the city will be out several million dollars a year that it is currently spending the vast majority of on public safety. That hole will have to be plugged one way or the other, either other taxes (which would also need to be passed by the voters), or cuts in services, many of which will affect all residents, rich and poor, and some of which will affect the poor the most. (Who do you think suffers the most when police response times slow down due to understaffing? People living in higher-crime neighborhoods, of course — in other words the poor and the working poor). And no, cutting the zoo and the visitor’s center won’t even get you close to the amount of savings needed. That’s not an opinion, that’s just a mathematical fact.


  19. Mola’s , memory is certainly selective & Highrolla is either a liar or has a faulty memory.

    From the voters guide regarding Eureka’s measure O:

    “This tax would be a general purpose tax, and all revenue generated from the proposed sales tax increase would be deposited into the City’s General Fund and, accordingly, all monies collected pursuant to the sales tax increase would be used by the City to pay for general City operations and programs including police protection, fire suppression, emergency medical response, street maintenance, environmental programs, parks and recreation, and zoo operations. As such, this ballot measure proposes a “general purpose tax,” rather than a “special purpose tax,” and requires a simple majority vote for adoption”

    And from the argument FOR Measure O:

    “A YES vote means that you support the services and programs provided by our Fire and Police Departments. A YES vote means you value Sequoia Park Zoo, safe parks, recreation, and programs to protect the environment. A YES vote on this measure means a minimal increase in local sales tax in order to raise nearly $3 million annually for 5 years to help fund critical city services. A YES vote means you are taking an active role in protecting our quality of life in Eureka during these difficult economic times.”

    Yes, I could see where High Rolla and Mola would only see funding for public Safety in this. NOT.

    Cue the howling of the TuluWatchDog, Mola 42, with….what, I don’t know, but he along with others will cry smoke and mirrors.


  20. “hm” I said what Arcata’s ad campaign for Measure G was, and compared that to the ad campaign for Measure O. You and others keep bringing up the voter guide. Most voters made up their mind based on the ad campaigns for Measure N & O. Neither ad campaign really reflected what the voter guide said. Just what they wanted the voter to believe.
    BTW your Brady bunch didn’t support Measure O.
    OMG they were actually right about something. Damn

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Rolla,

    The argument FOR measure O always mentioned the parks and the other items. Keep your head in the sand.


  22. and they aren’t “my brady bunch”


  23. “Most voters made up their mind based on the ad campaigns for Measure N & O”

    First of all, other than pure conjecture, I don’t know on what basis you arrived at your opinion of what led “most voters” to “make up their minds.” But for the sake of argument let’s say you’re right, and that many voters showed up to vote for Measure O thinking that it was “just for public safety.” My question is, when they saw it on the ballot, they didn’t bother to read the very short, very easy to read words that were right there in front of them? Again, I just don’t think too many voters are actually that stupid and lazy…present company excluded of course. 😉


  24. Sorry hm… the message as it filters down to the public is if you don’t vote for Measure O then public safety services for the C of E will be reduced. The rest of the message about parks and street sweeping seems to be at best an after thought. The selling point at the front of the campaign message is death, destruction and thievery.

    That is what is being talked about. And that is what the folks arguing your end can’t seem to hear.

    But if it makes you happy I for one will stipulate for the record that there is indeed SOME mention of Measure O not being exclusively for public safety.

    Please let’s not continue the hair splitting contest… it gets tedious after a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. ” the message as it filters down to the public is if you don’t vote for Measure O then public safety services for the C of E will be reduced. ”

    Well I sure hope that’s the message that “filters down to the public,” since that’s an accurate message. If Measure O is not renewed, there will be several million dollars less available to fund public safety.


  26. “Arcata definitely ‘sold’ their Measure G sales tax increase as funding for public safety in addition to other city services. Just as Eureka did.”
    (Green-Horned Anon)

    Eureka SOLD Measure “O” solely as a public safety necessity, repeated by every elected representative. I was there.

    “Only an illiterate person or someone who could not read and understand basic English could have voted for this measure without realizing some of the funds would be used for parks, street maintenance, etc.” (Green-Horned Anon)

    The Measure also promised a Citizen Oversight Committee, and it appears that a third of the revenue is holed-up in General Fund Reserves. Are you sure you want to remind voters what they voted for?

    If enough folks write the local papers and call their city representatives MAYBE Eureka’s city council will make an attempt to follow their own measure.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Close the zoo.

    Don’t raise my taxes to keep wild animals in confinement for human pleasure.

    You have squandered millions of dollars on this bs.

    Close it, close that $700 thousand dollar short fall you claim and then we’ll talk.

    Its a matter of prioritizing your BUDGET. When adults run out of money they have to make choices. MAKE SOME.

    I think its more like a million $ plus, but that’s because I think you are a pack of liars.


    • Exotic Wild Animals held prisoner! It’s just a vanity monument to the Arkleys and Eurekas other one percenter wanna bes


  28. Tax on gasoline sold within Eureka city limits. Kicks in at a nickel above the average price at which gas is sold in Willits, California, and adds two cents per penny over the fair price.

    This would provide incentive and market support for a legit station..


  29. Now that’s creative thinking Mitch. Two birds with one stone.

    Raise a few bucks for the city and at the same time crush the local fuel cartel.

    Taxes up a few cents but prices down a few cents and the consumer is not harmed.

    I like it.


    • It’s never a good sign when you start quoting your own self.

      You made that point. We got it. The problem is it doesn’t seem to mean anything to you but it does mean a great deal to the rest of us.

      And you yourself are trying to put on “the Scare” by going on about how the EPD will have three million dollars less a year if the voters of the City of Eureka don’t back Measure O’s renewal.



    • MOLA,

      I linked to my own comment in the previous thread because it addressed the question raised in the comment by Anon 9:26. When you say “we” got it, is that the “royal we?” I had not reason to believe Anon 9:26 had seen my comment in the previous thread, certainly their comment indicated they hadn’t. So I’m not sure what your problem is with me linking to that comment, rather than repeating myself, which you’ve already criticized (despite repeating your own claims over and over).

      It’s a fact that the City will lose $3-$4 million in tax revenues if Measure O is not renewed. Not all of that goes to EPD, nor did I say it did. A great deal also goes to the Fire Department and Emergency Services, and some to other city services. I don’t think people should be “scared,” but I do think they should be concerned.

      Have a nice evening.


  30. Eureka council approves plan for Measure O funds

    Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
    Posted: 12/23/2010 01:21:51 AM PST# Comments

    At the end of a marathon meeting Tuesday, with the clock nearing midnight, the Eureka City Council voted unanimously to finish what the city’s voters began on Election Day.

    Voting 4-0, with Mayor Frank Jager’s old 4th Ward seat vacant, the council approved a spending plan for funds raised from Measure O, which passed with 55 percent of the vote and tacks a 0.25 percent transaction and use tax onto the city’s sales tax. The measure was trumpeted to voters as a way to bolster the cash-strapped city’s public safety funding, and Tuesday the council followed through.

    In approving the spending plan, the council allocated $607,000 of Measure O funds to backfill cuts made to the city’s public safety agencies as a part of the 2010-2011 budget process.

    The new tax is expected to generate about $800,000 this fiscal year, and about $3.4 million on an annual basis.

    With its vote, City Manager David Tyson said, the council agreed to lift hiring freezes on a number of positions in the police and fire departments and approved funds for a new roof and gutter system at the Eureka Fire Department’s main station.

    Interim Eureka Fire Chief Bill Gillespie was not immediately available for comment Wednesday, but the council’s vote means his department will be able to hire three firefighters and fill a vacancy in the Fire Captain II ranks.

    Over at the police department, Chief Garr Nielsen said the additional funding will be huge.

    ”It’s difficult to overstate how important that funding is to us and to our ability to continue with the (Problem Oriented Policing) unit and the other gains we’ve been making,” Nielsen said. “For us, it’s huge.”

    Nielsen said the additional funding staves off the early retirements of the department’s three lieutenants, allows the department to hire a new sergeant, a new police services officer and two new police officers. With a couple other vacancies in the department, Nielsen said it’s difficult to say exactly when he’ll be able to get the new hires on the ground and get his department back up to full staff.

    But, once fully staffed, Nielsen said he intends to expand the POP unit — a specialized team that works to get at the root of ongoing community problems, primarily through nuisance abatement and drug busts — by adding another full-time officer to its ranks.

    Nielsen said he’s talked to a number of police chiefs throughout the state who had public safety tax measures on the November ballot, but has yet to hear of another one passing.

    ”I’m grateful, first of all to the citizens of Eureka for passing Measure O, and to the city manager and the council for constructing a process by which these positions could be unfrozen,” Nielsen said. “I think now the responsibility is ours to prove that the sacrifice that the people were willing to make is going to pay off through a safer community.”

    Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson@times-standard.com.



    • This is some revealing history. Not much of that spending actually was implemented except the crappy lieutenants keep their jobs. In fact Tyson kept Harpham around specifically so he could get rid of Garr Nielson Then they basically benched the pop team. Then a big exodus started from the cop shop. So a big chunk of that money never really got spent.
      Here we are to day 11 positions unfilled. why?
      The Finance director claims there’s abundant money set aside some where for EPD.
      So is it the extreme macho crony culture that has driven so many away?


  31. This was precisely the kind of promotion Measure “O” received both before and after its passage.

    Voters had to wait until their voting materials arrived in the mail, a little late to inspire questions or concerns that they’d have to notice for themselves.

    Not one word about funding non-law enforcement programs, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee, a sunset clause, or a huge chunk funneled into “reserves”.

    How hard would it be for a Times standard or NCJ journalist to express some alarm over Measure “O” irregularities, especially upon its pending renewal?

    Eurekans had better buy computers and start hitting the blogs if they want to stay informed.

    Liked by 1 person

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