Earlier this year, we published an article noting that, despite being on the brink of recession with record low growth and thousands of residents leaving the region, Ventura County elected officials were pushing ahead with measures that will kill jobs and decrease revenues provided by the local oil and gas industry.
Today, with the added impact of a global pandemic being felt by every government in the region, the conclusion of that article is all the more urgent: Now is not the time for Ventura County to reject an industry supplying good-paying jobs and millions in tax revenues.
- The unemployment rate in Ventura is now 13.5%, nearly a 10% jump from pre-pandemic levels. More than 100,000 unemployment claims have been filed in Ventura County since March.
- County Supervisors are taking the unprecedented step of delaying the adoption of their 2020-2021 budget until September due to COVID-related impacts that are still unknown. Projections show the County is facing a revenue loss of $40 million at the same time that the state faces a budget shortfall of $54 billion, which will undoubtedly result in a reduction of state funding for Ventura County.
- The City of Ventura’s projected budget deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year has jumped from $4.1 million to $11.1 million. As the VC Star reported earlier this month: “Almost every type of city revenue, with the exception of property taxes, is dropping, with the biggest hits coming to sales taxes, hotel taxes and license and permit fees the city charges to business owners.” Right now, the city is projecting a $9.9 million deficit for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, growing to $14.2 million in 2025-26.
- Other cities in the county are also facing major fiscal challenges. For example, the City of Oxnard is reportedly considering a sales tax increase to help balance its budget.
In the face of these challenges, while other regions are taking necessary actions to save jobs and businesses, Ventura County is going out of its way to restrict local energy production, choosing to send energy jobs and tax revenues overseas as the state increases imports to make up for the lost local production.
Ending oil and gas production in Ventura County would blow a $1 billion annual hole in the regional economy, destroy 2,100 high-paying jobs, and cut $21 million per year in taxes from government coffers – funds that pay for vital community services like K-12 schools, police departments, fire departments, and other social services.
Rejecting the local oil and gas industry in Ventura County didn’t make any economic sense before COVID-19. It makes even less sense now.