By Jesus Vargas, COACHELLA UNINCORPORATED
COACHELLA, CA — Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia recently gave a press conference to young journalists, during which he detailed his overall vision and planned improvements for the city in which he grew up.
While the city has a balanced budget and, according to Garcia, is “able to provide an adequate level of services such has police, fire, parks and roads to Coachella residents,” the decrease in tax revenue has stagnated city expansion. Voters will decide in November if a proposed tax to renovation and add parks will come to fruition. Because of the lack of funds in the budget, the Mayor is unwilling to dip into city cash reserves.
The Mayor addressed a matter of great concern for Coachella: the lack of revenue from businesses. Coachella draws most of its tax revenue from property taxes, he said, and this source of income has decreased substantially due to low home prices and plummeting sales.
“Improving the city’s tax base is one of the obstacles we need to start looking seriously at,” said Garcia.
Currently the city’s top industry is agriculture which offers low-paying manual labor jobs to residents. The mayor hopes to entice business to the city in the future, noting that they would bring important revenue boosts with them but acknowledges that this task might be difficult with the average resident of Coachella not having a college degree. He pointed to the recently built Coca- Cola distribution center as a step forward, saying that similar light industry is an avenue to pursue.
While tourism is the region’s second major source of income, the Mayor said, “(There is) not a single hotel in the city. Cities have a bed tax on hotels but this is something that we can’t do.”
He proposed that the city allow and entice hotels into the city of Coachella in order to take of advantage of this revenue source.
With 80 percent of the city undeveloped and population growing 79 percent from 22,000 in 2000 to 40,000 in 2010, the city is one of the fasted-growing areas in the state. Mayor Garcia said he is committed to figuring out ways to increase the city’s tax base so this growth can be managed in an orderly and controlled manner to improve the quality of life of residents.