For Immediate Release: September 4, 2012
Contact: Kevin Jeffries (951) 678-4730.
Supervisor Candidate Kevin Jeffries Opposes Riverside County’s
Job Killing “Sun Tax”
(Riverside, CA) Kevin Jeffries, candidate for 1st District Riverside County Supervisor, released the following statement today: Riverside County and the Inland Empire have long been leaders in clean energy production. From the wind farms in Riverside County, to solar installations in San Bernardino County and geothermal production in Imperial County, we have been blessed with resources that are in increasing demand as Californians seek out renewable energy resources—some by choice, others by mandates from the state and federal government.
Unfortunately, while our region is poised to reap the benefits of renewable energy projects and the high paying jobs they offer, Riverside County is choosing to kill jobs by imposing its own (likely) illegal “sun tax” on large solar developments. According to the Press Enterprise (“Riverside County Sued for Alleged Sun Tax”, 2-6-12), there are 20 large solar projects planned for the Riverside County desert region, which could generate 7,000 construction jobs, 400 permanent jobs, and $300 million in annual payroll.
The backers of these renewable energy projects are asking the courts for relief for what they believe to be an illegal tax masquerading as a fee, and fear that this added cost (as much as $6 million per year for just one project in Blythe) could doom a number of projects and cause them to move to other counties that are more competitive and job friendly. Our region has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, we cannot afford to let overzealous county fees and regulations chase jobs away.
The Sun Tax goes to trial on January 25, 2013. In fact, the County anticipated this earlier this year when it approved spending $400,000 on sole-source contracts for attorneys to fight for this misguided policy and impose it County-wide (3/12/12 Agenda items 3.30 and 3.31). I can’t imagine defending a policy of this nature, let alone spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend it in the courtroom. It is simply reckless.
While I believe all development needs to pay for the impacts they create on traffic, public safety, and other infrastructure, fees must be based on actual impacts. Trying to cash in on industries attempting to create new jobs and investment in Riverside County is short-sighted. It kills jobs and does nothing to protect our County from impacts.
Our elected leaders have a dual duty to both protect our hard earned tax dollars from any industry seeking to take improper or unethical advantage of taxpayer subsidies, and to simultaneously allow the private sector to flourish and create new jobs and clean energy free of excessive taxes and regulations.
A fresh new perspective in the First District office will help create new jobs for Riverside County – not new billing hours for attorneys.
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Jeffries has been a resident of Riverside County for 41 years. He has been active in regional, local and non-profit organizations, serving 16 years as a locally elected water district Director, 2 years each as a Recreation & Parks Director and County Parks Advisory commissioner, 5 years as a Riverside County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) member and 29 years as a Riverside County Volunteer Firefighter. Jeffries served on numerous Chamber of Commerce and economic development committees and is currently President and partner of his investment firms. Jeffries is serving his final term in the California State Legislature representing a large portion of both Riverside County and the First Supervisorial District.