In a mini-version of the statewide debate over returning money to the taxpayers versus spending it on needed services, voters in the City of San Diego will decide in November whether to waive for four years the restrictions of the Gann limitation.
Approved while Proposition 13 euphoria was still at its peak in 1979, the Gann limit does not affect the amount of tax money the city collects , but does control how much it spends. This is the same law Gov. George Deukmejian is using to return $1.1 billion to state taxpayers despite overwhelming public support for giving that money to the public schools.
The law uses the tax revenue collected by a governmental entity in 1979 as its base and allows increases according to population growth and inflation. If more money is collected than can legally be spent--as would happen here for the first time next year--it must be returned to the taxpayers.
Whether that is a good idea on the state level or not, at least it can be done equitably by sending rebates to those who filed income tax returns. At the local level, however, the city would have to figure out a way to give back money collected from property tax, sales tax and even the transient occupancy tax. It would be a logistical nightmare--and an expensive one.