California was always popular for beaches, temperate climate and diverse geography. It had good roads and good education. More people came. Growth itself didn’t produce enough taxes to satisfy every desire. It’s now a state known for high costs and high taxes.

Lake Havasu City has some similarities to California and not just because of the proximity and number of Californians here. Many came precisely because it’s not California.

However unfair it may be to pick on California as a symbol of high taxes and over-regulation, it’s provides convenient shorthand. Simply put, Lake Havasu City is possibly in the early stages of becoming California. It’s a slide that will worsen with unquestioning acceptance of proposed new taxes and fees.

It shouldn’t be this way. Lake Havasu City is booming. Tax revenues are increasing, especially sales tax revenue that are a signal of economic health.

So why isn’t growth itself taking care of city government’s need for more money? Why does the city say it needs extra millions of dollars for water and sewer and general government? Why is the city seeking all sorts of feedback on higher water and sewer rates and a handful of options to add taxes or extra fees? Shouldn’t growth take care of these needs?

Options the city’s discussed includes commercial lease taxes, higher property taxes, higher sales taxes and higher hotel bed taxes.

But why?

City officials point to a “structural deficit,” a term that just means they’re already overspending and will continue to do so unless there is more money coming in. Then there is the upcoming sunsetting of the city’s Irrigation and Drainage District, which supplies millions of dollars in property tax revenue.

City government is burdened with massive expense obligations over which it has little control. It has the most control over its general fund, which is actually the nest of the structural deficit. Until a few years ago, the general fund was flush enough that several million dollars per year was diverted from the general fund to keep water rates stable. That no longer happens.

What of the other money needs? The answers are less obvious but include pension obligations, uncertain road money and payroll growth.

As city government chases many revenue alternatives, it’s entirely possible the population will go along with the most general explanation that costs just increase over time. In so doing, many will look to the least-painful options for themselves. In so doing, they provide acceptance for the need for higher city spending.

Once residents are OK with, say, a higher bed tax, the discussion of “why the need?” is over. From there, it’s easy to slip into a gradual acceptance of other taxes and fees.

The city has been a strong proponent of growth, correctly recognizing that new, good jobs and a well-muscled business community provide money for new city services to improve the quality of life here.

More taxes and fees limit that growth, which brings us to California again.

City government needs to offer much more convincing reasons for why it needs more money and why the pro-growth approach to development isn’t enough to slake its money thirst. Providing choices on types of taxes and fees isn’t the same as justifying them.

— Today’s News-Herald


(17) comments


The biggest draw on the general fund is police, fire and parks. Decide what you don't want.


I have to agree with Vince on this. It really can be separated into the usual Republican vs. Democrat system of governing. California has been run by socialist Democrats for a good long while now. And we've all seen the results as they mount up. Higher taxes, more government, jobs disappearing, companies moving to free states, (read Texas and Tennessee). People leaving left and right chasing those jobs and freedoms, as more and more of them are disappearing in favor of more regulations and restrictive, dictatorial living. Non stop issues with minorities and homeless people. Along with an ever increasing drug, crime, and violence problem.

This seems to go hand and hand wherever Democrats take over government. Be it Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, Chicago, Illinois, Baltimore, Maryland, New York City, and I could go on and on. But you get the picture. Wherever Democrats go, they haul their problems with them to plant and re harvest them elsewhere.

We are starting to see the same results here in Lake Havasu City, with all of the California transplants who have moved here. They all end up wanting and manufacturing the same crap here, they managed to create in the very place they came from. Much like our friends who come to this country illegally from south of the border. Let's at least be honest. They're not coming here because it's so wonderful there. Everyone deserves a better life, regardless of where you're from. But somewhere along the line, these people have to realize the system of government they so love, that gives away other peoples money, all meet with the same exact fate. Sooner or later they're going to run out of places to run to. Because they will have destroyed the very core principals that made it so appealing to come here to begin with.

Vince Gors

hg!!, just reading on MSN, even they are ripping "sleepy" for squandering the Leverage on IRAN, President Trump left him. Then Megan McCain is Screaming @ him to get rid of Fauci and replace the entire Covid Protection/Information Organization.

hg, your guy is way out of his league. I can not understand after 50 years, he did not pick up even One leadership quality.

He is a Disgrace and all of you supporters are going to come out as looking much more Stupid than you even do now.

He is destroying the Country, Thanks "sleepy" gas has gone up 50 Cents and more depending?

Vince Gors

HG, now after near two months, are you Proud of your party? "sleepy" has done nothing that is Positive or Good for out Country. he is a Bumbling,Stumbling Bafoon that in no way will continue in Office for the 4 years. Your Party is doing such evil long lasting Destruction,even members of your Party is voicing their concern and Terror of the results.

Just saying your a dimocrat speaks volumes of what sort of (?) you are.[rolleyes]


Hey! Cousin Vinnie, take a deep breath, get some oxygen in that pea brain! Biden has been in office for only 2 months!, so what you are really moaning and groaning about and refuse to look at are 4 years of mismanagement by that clown who played golf while he and his inept corrupt administration stood by as thousands (523,296 to date) of Americans died during this pandemic! The real "bumbling, stumbling, Bafoon", that stain on humanity!, now private citizen, resides in Florida and will soon be prepped for a 5x DOC jumpsuit to answer for his high crimes and misdemeanors!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the majority of Lake Havasu residents come from California?


This foolish spending nonsense has been going on in this town, since I lived here in the early 90's. First they "needed" a, "Fire Training Academy". Next it was a $30 MILLION dollar jail and police station. Then it was an, "Aquatic Center". Built on the lake of all places. The stupid spending never stops. In the meantime we lack sewers, sidewalks and streetlights. Drive down McCulloch Boulevard, and the main drag looks as if the civic planning commission was headed up by Mr. Magoo. Now we've doubled the population since then, and the money problems have increased 5 fold. Californian's couldn't run a Kool-Aid stand at a profit. Let alone manage the finances of this city. It's insane.


Here is a quote guaranteed to bring a chuckle. From 2015, "The sewer rates will remain stable for 10 years"(2025! not 2021!) A statement so proudly made by then city manger Charlie Cassens. This profound claim was based on rock solid numbers brought about by new construction, all these new customers, commercial and residential, the rates shall, therefore, would remain stable. With more and more consumers now sharing the burden ya think the rates might remain or go "down" a bit? No! Why not! Where did these people learn about numerators, denominators, and sharing!?

The council votes to go forward and blindly spend our tax money with no return on investments. They disregard inputs after we overpay outside agencies for solutions to problems they create and ignore the topics that are questioned by the public or pertinent organizations and move on to accept our fate with no further thought. Topics such as the second bridge, code enforcement, chromium 6 up river, city transportation with new investments in busses, the English Village facades, the dead mall, the downtown district makeover, the forever stalled Havasu Riviera fiasco with our 8mil invested in the entry road. These subject are shuffled off to sub or sub-sub plans to be addressed again and again and only until crisis management is required. Here we go again!, past promises aside, fasten the seat belts, as the new sewer and water rates are going to make for a bumpy ride on fixed incomes!


Don't Kalifornia my Arizona!




I could not agree more with this article. We have been watching it closely, especially since the COVID. This should be concerning to all residents. The Mayor did nothing to slow the of town traffic at the height of the pandemic, which lead to the ability for those on lockdown, to come out in full force here in Havasu. Our infrastructure is being taken to task, Hwy 95 is a complete pinball game. If you notice, a high percentage of crime, where people are arrested, are from Cali. The town is in transition, and the answer to the City Fathers is.....raise taxes!! We just recently spent a lot of money upgrading our home, waiting to do so for 20 years!!!! And now, we are contemplating selling and moving. Havasu is nothing like it used to be, it was a wonderful place to live, and play. We were big Lake participants, and now, have sold the boats, and have no plans on hitting the lake. I am very sad about the environment of our town, one that we have loved for more than 50 (we've been coming since we were kids) years, but times have changed, and maybe we need to do so as well. If they want to pay a high price for my home, so be it, it's on them! Only one word describes the situation..............CRAZY!!!


This is the problem wherever Californians migrate to. Be it Idaho, Colorado, or here in Lake Havasu City. They bring their foolish financial overspending habits, and lousy ideas about government with them. And in the process, turn wherever they go, into the same mess as where they came from. The end result is a trail of overtaxed, over regulated disasters. It's like a financial train wreck that never stops. You would think sooner or later they would wake up. But that never seems to be the case, does it?

Vince Gors

Just yesterday, I counted the California License Plates I saw. The count, out of the first 20 vehicles 15 were from California. I understand some might be visiting, but the Pollution is in Full Force. They Ruined their State, now on to other places that are "Ripe' to destroy.


There was a race in Parker this weekend. Plenty were here for that. Atleast the ones in the "short-term" rentals near me.


He was just bragging that he could count.


That's more than we can say about you.


I agree, it is a trainwreck. Open checkbooks to overspend and want to have others pay for it and try to balance it.

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