By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma voters gave overwhelming support Tuesday to raising the city’s sales tax by half a percentage point.
Supporters of Measure J, which hikes the sales tax from 8 to 8.5 percent, said it would help the city recoup the loss of state redevelopment funds and protect services like pothole repairs and police.
The measure was approved by 66.5 percent of voters, while 33.5 percent were opposed. It required a majority vote.
Critics argued the city relied too much on redevelopment for routine services and was trying to make up for that with a tax measure they cast as unnecessary and unfair.
Sonoma’s sales tax now is lower than several other Sonoma County cities, including Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol. The increase would generate about $1.07 million annually.
The last time Sonoma voters approved a city tax was in 1992, when they raised the transit occupancy tax to 10 percent.
The City Council voted unanimously to place the sales tax measure on the ballot three months after city staff reported that the city’s finances were in relatively good shape. The city also has reserves of about $4.5 million.
The budget picture worsened in December after the California Supreme Court upheld a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to dissolve redevelopment agencies.
Sonoma resident Bob Dollar said he voted for the measure because “government is not paying for anything anymore.”
But Vicki Woodhead did not support it because she said she would “rather see us spend our money more wisely than take more in.”
You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.