Council eyes measure offering residents loans for green upgrades

CARLSBAD — City Council passed measures to support green initiatives and protect local tax dollars from the state government at their Feb. 23 meeting.
The council authorized city staff to pursue the CaliforniaFIRST program, a statewide energy efficiency improvement program. This program would offer loans to city residents to make eco-friendly updates to their residential and commercial properties.
Loans would be awarded to residents for a minimum of $5,000 worth of improvements and up to $75,000, including double pane windows and solar powered electricity and water. Depending on the project’s longevity, the loans could be repaid over 10 to 20 years, said David Hauser, the city’s director of property and environmental management.
The program would help Carlsbad and the state meet energy efficiency and climate goals, as well as promote local jobs, Hauser said. The project is expected to launch in summer of 2010 and the city hopes to begin taking applications in July at www.carlsbadca.gov.
Council members also pledged their support for a ballot initiative to protect local tax dollars and transportation funding from the state at the meeting. Catherine Hill from the League of California Cities explained the measure in detail that could be added to the ballot in November’s election.
The initiative is titled the “Local Taxpayers, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act,” and it would close loopholes that exist in current legislation, Hill said. It would prohibit the state from borrowing money from Carlsbad’s local property tax revenues, Highway Users Tax Funds and public transit funding. It will also enhance accountability and be a step toward state budget reform, Hill said.
While the state has been taking money from local governments, cities have cut funding for local services, including libraries and parks. Residents have had to do without some of their beloved programs, and Hill asked the council to support the measure, highlighting its importance to “send a message to your voters and constituents in Carlsbad.”
“(The state) views it all as one common pot of money that they should have access to,” Councilman Mark Packard said. “This initiative will help us as a community.”
Advocates of the measure are currently collecting signatures to get the initiative on November’s ballot. Visit www.savelocalservices.com to learn more about the measure.

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