By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A hike in sales tax could be in the future for Healdsburg residents, depending on the results of a community poll.
The city has put out a request for proposals from consultants to design a poll to gauge sentiment for a sales tax increase.
The poll could also measure public support for redistributing hotel bed tax revenues, most of which now go to park and recreation programs.
Any sales tax hike, or a change in how bed taxes are allocated would need voter approval.
City Manager Marjie Pettus said Tuesday that a measure would not be placed on the ballot until next year, in June or November of 2012.
“We won’t take any action until we see what the response is and what type of money we might be talking about,” she said.
She said the City Council could award a contract for the poll in October and the sampling of voter opinion would take place in November.
In May, City Council members tentatively approved spending $25,000 for the survey. The action arose during budget sessions when the council discussed ways to plug a chronic deficit in the general fund.
Council members discussed raising the sales tax rate by as much as a half-percent from the current 9 percent.
That would put Healdsburg on par with Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Cotati, all of which have 9.5 percent rates.
Other cities in Sonoma County have a 9 percent rate, other than Sebastopol which has 9.25 percent.
Pettus said a community poll will likely try to ascertain the possibility of changing how hotel bed tax revenues are spent.
Currently of the 12 percent bed tax, 10 percent goes to park and recreation programs and 2 percent to the general fund.
The City Council several years ago was considering placing a sales tax hike before voters, but decided to forego it, to avoid competing with a sales tax ballot measure to pay for SMART commuter trains.