Opinion: Elk Grove Auto Mall Gift Card Program . . . City of Elk Grove Finance Department says, “No!”



By Connie Conley |  

It has been well documented by media outlets including Elk Grove News, in articles and Op-Eds, taxpayer money wasted by the city of Elk Grove. 

Just a few examples:
  • $595,000 to P3 International to secure financing for the aquatics center which resulted in a “material breach of contract,” only to net the city of Elk Grove $4,000 in recovered taxpayer monies after a lawsuit was filed.
  • Almost $1 million in plans by the late architect Zadid Hadid for the original civic center which were thrown away.
  • Hundreds of thousands spent on feasibility studies. Does anyone remember a study that netted anything?
  • Currently, $400,000 approved by the Elk Grove City Council for a no-bid spatial needs study.

Yet when a proposal entitled,“The Elk Grove Auto Mall Gift Card Program,” is brought forward to give the residents of Elk Grove an incentive to purchase a car at the Elk Grove Auto Mall, the city of Elk Grove finance staff is refusing to recommend the proposal. Staff won’t even place the proposal on the agenda for the Elk Grove City Council to discuss in an open meeting so that the public may weigh in. [Please note there is money left in the economic incentives budget in the current fiscal year to fund the proposal.]

It must be noted that new car sales are declining.  And I am sure the new CarMax, which is in the city of Sacramento, is giving our auto mall heartburn when it comes to used car sales.  If passed, this proposal has the potential to bring in over $21,000,000 in car sales to the Elk Grove Auto Mall, netting a million six in sales tax revenue.  

Also, not taken into consideration is when the gift cards are redeemed at other local Elk Grove businesses, it will garner them more business and more sales tax revenue to the city.

And no Catch 22 here, if the buyer doesn’t redeem the gift card, it is not taxpayer money wasted by the city of Elk Grove.

It must also be noted that more sales tax revenue is always needed by the city of Elk Grove.  Sales tax revenue pays for vital city services such as our police department and transit system. As it is, our garage bills just went up again, potholes need to be filled and we need to pay for the $19 million in interest on the $40 million bond the Elk Grove City Council approved.  

Also in the near future, sales tax revenue and money from the reserves will be needed to cover the overage costs of running the aquatics center, monies to operate the animal shelter and the civic center.  Yet, the answer to a proposal to bring more sales tax revenue into the city was stamped, “No!”

The Elk Grove Auto Mall Gift Card Proposal is attached for viewing.

In closing, to use a cliché often heard at Elk Grove City Council meetings, unlike the wasted taxpayer money listed above, this proposal is “not throwing good money after bad!”

Copyright © 2019 by Connie Conley. All rights reserved.








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2 comments

Unknown said...

Thank you for taking the initiative to exercise democracy at the local level. Unfortunately, "bottom-up" progressive citizen action in this community has been about as successful as the ghost mall!

It seems like every Valley town from Redding to Bakersfield has a script written for it by special interests other than their citizens (except Davis). I believe the builders are referred to as the "stakeholders". All others, just pay your taxes, Mello Roos assessments, and be sure to keep your comments to less than 3 minutes.

After spending money like drunken sailors for so many years, is it possible the City Council sees the dark clouds on the horizon and are hunkering down for the coming debt crisis? Are they finally hoarding their cash to help reduce the debt burden on the Mello Roos payers? Or is the auto incentive a bad idea, because as Councilman Hume once said, "Dinosaurs don't drive"?

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

After reading the proposal, it appears reasonable. The city's bureaucratic rationale for not placing the proposal on the city council's agenda for consideration reminds me of a movie I viewed over the weekend - Kill The Messenger.

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