Closing the gap

The city needs to close a $35 million to $40 million budget gap. Here are some ideas that could help. It’s hardly a comprehensive list, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Parking taxes: Outside consultant Management Partners suggested the city levy a parking tax on all monthly parking passes—in both public and private lots. A 3 percent parking tax could raise as much as $20 million for the city every year. The city could also end parking subsidies for city workers.

Stop developer giveaways: The city figures it “overpaid” downtown rail-yard developer Thomas Enterprises by about $40 million for a chunk of land that might one day house a new Sacramento Kings arena. Getting some of that money back would help. It also would have helped to do an appraisal before writing that check. The city also charges relatively low developer fees, according to Management Partners. And apparently sometimes fees get waived altogether. Time for the developers to return the favor.

Bargain harder: Some observers say this year the city can wring concessions out of Local 39, the public-employee union, when its contract expires in June. Future contract negotiations might focus on the generous pension plans for police and firefighters.

Tax the state: Sacramento’s biggest property owner, the state of California, pays nothing in property taxes, because, well, it’s the state. But the governor has suggested that California sell some of its office buildings, and then lease them back, to generate some quick revenue. That would be good news for the city, which could then collect property and utility taxes on the now privately owned buildings.