Local News

Sunday, Aug 03 2014 08:57 PM

City may put sales tax increase proposal on November ballot

On Monday, Aug. 4, the Tehachapi City Council will be asked to consider a putting a sales tax increase proposal before voters in the November election.

According to the staff report on the Aug. 4 agenda, the half-cent local sales tax primarily would be utilized for road maintenance and would be effective for 10 years.

"Unfortunately, road maintenance funding has been an unstable situation in the State of California for decades," the staff report states. The city itself faces similar situations as most of the money for road repairs comes from state gas taxes, which have limped behind increased travel.

However, the staff report also notes that the sales tax revenue could be used for other local projects as well, like "senior service improvements, recreation enhancement projects, beautification projects and more," in addition to road maintenance projects.

Revenue generated from the tax would remain local, unlike state sales tax, of which the city receives .75 percent, with the rest dispersed among the state, county and other government agencies.

Sales tax in the city of Tehachapi mirrors Kern County's sales tax at 7.5 percent as well as matching the City of Bakersfield. The sales tax rate is one percent less than in Arvin and Delano, and three quarters of a cent lower than Ridgecrest's sale tax (at 8.25 percent).  

Voter approval of the tax measure — if put on the ballot by the council Monday night — would bump the sales tax to a even eight percent. According to the staff report, voters approving the tax would only pay an additional five cents on a $10 purchase for taxable items.

The city staff report notes that ballot measure will give voters the opportunity to provide direction to the City Council and staff regarding the issue. The city will not conduct a political campaign or polling on the issue, "as city staff believes that the vote is in effect, a poll, and no campaigning is necessary."

Additionally, the staff report notes that the proposed tax isn't being billed as a "do or die" measure, and a no vote would not hamper the city's ability to continue its current service.

In order to put the tax measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, the council needs to adopt a resolution at the Aug. 4 meeting. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Wells Education Center, 300 S. Robinson St.

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