By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
One of the more spirited exchanges of the Santa Rosa City Council’s recent budget debate centered on whether the Measure P sales
tax should be allowed to expire in 2019.
Councilman Gary Wysocky has been quick to remind his colleagues that the quarter-percent sales tax passed in 2010 to support city services lasts for just eight years. He argues that the council needs to work harder to prepare for the day that annual revenue, currently $7 million, evaporates.
But Councilman John Sawyer pointed out that it is also possible voters could decide to reauthorize Measure P.
Wysocky’s eyes widened at the suggestion, and he accused Sawyer of angling to extend the tax and avoid the tough decisions necessary to “get our house in order.”
“To already think of it, Councilman Sawyer, as an out when it was just a temporary measure, I mean, that’s not doing our jobs,” Wysocky said.
Sawyer responded that he was just noting that reauthorization is a possibility, but Wysocky pressed on. “If you’re in favor of more taxes, that’s fine,” he said.
An exasperated Sawyer sought to set Wysocky straight.
“I am not in favor of more taxes. This would be an existing tax and this would be a reauthorization of an existing tax, not another tax.”
After the meeting Wysocky said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing from across the dais.
“In less than a year of Measure P revenues, he’s talking about extending the temporary tax increase? It’s astonishing to me,” Wysocky said.
Sawyer said later he spoke up because he is tired of Wysocky characterizing Measure P as something that must disappear. Yes, it is as temporary measure, but it’s also a popular one and who’s to say voters wouldn’t support something like it again should it be necessary, he said.
“He makes it sound like it has to go away,” Sawyer said.
The city is planning to do without Measure P once it expires, Sawyer said. It is wise to “leave the door open” to conversations about reauthorization, “but I’m certainly not banking on it.”