Not surprisingly, I read this morning that the Bakersfield City Council has voted to spend over $50,000 on a survey to help them decide if they should support a sales tax increase. So our elected leaders are willing to spend money the city can’t afford in order to dodge a leadership role. Of course, asking for a sales tax increase will be difficult for the conservatives. But why shouldn’t the council members be transparent? Let the voters know where you stand. A city without a city council could govern by survey.

Since the city council voted to ban any marijuana businesses other than medical marijuana, they passed up an opportunity to gain revenue that could have helped fund efforts to eliminate illegal marijuana shops. The policing of illegal marijuana activity has been estimated to cost approximately $2 million annually. Perhaps the survey should include questions that give respondents an either/or scenario regarding the legalization of marijuana business in some form (it needn’t be retail sales) or a tax increase.

As we are seeing nationally, here in Bakersfield we now see a threat of a reduction in taxpayer services. It may be appropriate in this survey to ask respondents if they favor a slight increase in sales tax, or the shuttering of fire stations; closing libraries; furloughing police officers; or doing less to help the homeless. Which taxpayer services face elimination? An element of quality leadership is transparency. Now may be a good time to demonstrate that.

Terry Beals

Bakersfield