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Commentary: Dock tax opponents say watch out incumbents

April 26, 2014|By Bob McCaffrey

This November presents Newport Beach taxpayers with a chance to return fiscal restraint back to city government.

I took a 20-year break from civic affairs until 18 months ago, when city leaders chose to raise taxes — which they termed fees — on residential dock owners, commercial marina operators and harbor businesses. They did it because they could.

There was no state mandate, court order or administrative finding requiring the tax hikes. The insatiable appetite of government for more money led our Republican City Council members to feast on their constituents.

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At the time, they were sitting on a $130 million budgetary surplus, but they needed more to pay for the new City Hall and one of the most bloated bureaucracies in our region.

We recently settled the dock tax lawsuit against the city. The settlement restores the equity in our docks that the city hijacked in passing the dock tax ordinance. We now pay three taxes — property, boat and dock. The dock tax will increase 350% in five years. We are paying more than our fair share.

It took us 18 months, a lawsuit and $140,000 in donations to fight City Hall. I want to thank everyone who donated and kept the pressure on.

Representative government has broken down in our fair town with a complicit City Council delegating their elected duty to an invasive city staff.

The arrogance displayed by our elected council members needs to change.

Last week I instructed our campaign treasurer to start Residents for Reform, a political action committee that will support certain candidates in the November election.

We have been meeting for months to develop a set of guiding principles. We have launched http://www.residentsforreform.com to keep residents informed and allow for donations.

During the next few months, Residents for Reform will give the community a choice between the big-spending arrogant ways of the incumbents or a City Council that is transparent, fiscally conservative and responsive to and respectful of residents.

I look forward to the conversation.

BOB MCCAFFREY was chairman of the Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn. and Stop the Dock Tax and is now involved in Residents for Reform. He lives in Newport Beach.

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