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Cotati declares fiscal emergency, eyes tax hike


Cotati has declared a fiscal emergency, thus taking the first step toward extending the life of Measure A, the 2010 voter-approved sales-tax measure, and doubling its size.

The council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to approve the fiscal statement, a precursor to asking voters this summer to approve an additional sales-tax measure — this one a one-percent tax — when the half-percent Measure M tax expires in 2015.

cotatiIn 2010, Cotati became one of the cities in Sonoma County to raise its local sales-tax rate as the recession forced major cutbacks in municipal staffing and services.

In the past few years, Cotati reduced its workforce by 28 percent, trimmed employee benefits and cut back the $4.86 million general fund budget.

“We have made every cut possible and it is our responsibility to maintain current service levels, prevent more severe cuts and maintain our status as a viable, independent city,” City Manager Dianne Thompson said in a statement announcing the fiscal emergency.

In 2009, the city was staggering under a $530,000 general fund deficit. In April 2010, voters passed Measure A, increasing Cotati’s sales tax rate for five years.

It raised about $750,000 each of the last two years. With the tax hike’s sunset date approaching, the council agreed voters should be asked to extend it.

“It did exactly what it was supposed to,” said Councilman Mark Landman. “It maintained the police department and kept the city going.”

The declaration of a fiscal emergency is a statement by the council that revenues and budget cuts are insufficient to avoid further reductions in city services that would decrease Cotati’s quality of life and hurt its long-term financial viability, Thompson said.

The council will consider a new ballot measure at its meeting Feb. 25.

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.)

14 Responses to “Cotati declares fiscal emergency, eyes tax hike”

  1. Steveguy says:

    Can anyone help me out with a question that I have ?

    Has the Cotati SMART station been built ?

    My information is that the station was going to be finished by Spring 2013. I never go that way so am unaware if it happened or not. With SMART’s ” track record ” I have doubts about anything that is said.

    This is the latest that I could find– Oct 23, 2012 :


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  2. Follower says:

    Cotati doesn’t have any “fiscal emergency” that couldn’t be fixed by a nice WalMart Super Center.

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  3. Steveguy says:

    Thank you Greg for pointing out that only seven Cotati employees account for a quarter of their budget.

    I was also trying to find their cost for the SMART train station, as SMART wants the cities to build what they promised to build. Seems as though the Metropolitan Transportation Commission ( MTC) gave Cotati $1.5 Million for it, and they had $2.9 Million in other ‘free money’ lined up. It is supposed to have been completed in 2011 or 12, but have noticed other articles that infer it has yet to be built.

    Very murky water- I suppose on purpose- but I did come across this quote- ” SMART hopes to have at least portions of its commute rail system up and running by 2014. “.. Hey wait ! It’s 2014 NOW !

    SMART keeps pushing the date out and as of now it is ” Late 2016 ” which I can’t help but think it is really 2018 or even later. Where are the hundreds and hundreds of workers building the system ?

    Is Cotati on the hook for more money ? I would bet on it.

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  4. taxpayer says:

    Sounds like Bell,Ca.These kind of wages for a town with the population of 6800… Oh my,seriously.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  5. David says:

    Mr Bear

    Government at all levels have the same problem, when times are good they never save a penny for when times aren’t so good. They spend, spend, spend and then spend some more. You can bet that none of these “temporary” tax increases will ever go away. Learn to live within your means like normal people do every day of their life.

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  6. Greg Karraker says:

    Cotati salaries and benefits, taken directly from the city’s website:

    City Manager 213577

    Police Chief 237620

    City Engineer 176563

    Director Finance 168612

    Dir, Community Dev. 137767

    Asst. City Manager 132961

    Deputy City Clerk 104894

    Seven people, receiving $1.17 million a year to manage a city of 6800 people, and City Hall is closed every Friday.

    Anybody feeling touched by the sacrifices these seven have made?

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  7. bear says:

    When the national economy tanks, as it did under Bush and AFTER Clinton, who suffers? All the local governments who must balance their budgets under past assumptions about the economy.

    Any more off-budget wars waiting?

    How many nuclear weapons do we need? How much to dispose of some appropriate number? Do you know that the detonation of just 100 nuclear weapons by anyone would be an extinction level event? But we have at least 7,000 warheads?

    Who is the enemy that warrants 11+ carrier battle groups?

    And who do you think runs government? NOT elected officials, but the people who financed them. Starting here in Sonoma County. But not stopping there.

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  8. Greg Karraker says:

    What a joke. At the Feb 11 council meeting, city staff showed a four-slide PowerPoint presentation. It said that with the current ½ cent tax, the city would be $500,000 in the black for FY 2015/2016. They would not be in the red till FY 2016/17, at which point they would have a $1,000,000 deficit.

    But they have to declare an emergency and double the sales tax now, 18 months before the current one expires? Their own presentation showed that merely extending the current sales tax would keep the city viable for years.

    When the city proposed the original Measure A, I called it a blank check to sloppy government. This is worse. It’s a blank check to greedy, deceitful government. I hope the PD is ready to write a story about the reaction of local merchants. They are justifiably outraged, and won’t take this lying down.

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  9. GAJ says:

    What Republicans specifically Bear resulted in Cotati declaring a Fiscal Crisis?

    I didn’t think Cotati was a hot bed of Conservative Fiscal Policy.

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  10. Robert says:

    Stockton is a perfect example. They built a city hall and 3 new city parking garages for over $150 million that they did not have. All those properties, including a massive city hall they could not afford to move into, were repossessed by he bank. They tried to claim pensions were to blame. The BK judge did not agree. We shall see how that pays out.

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  11. This is why George Barich needs to be back on that council. The far left that run the council are BANKRUPTING that city, and of course, as all D’s do, they’re calling for TAX HIKES. Of course!


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  12. Michael Sheehan says:


    As if Democrat economic policy has been any better. You’re post is biased.

    People do not object to paying taxes, but they do strongly object to the waste, fraud and corruption (which Dems NEVER point out) that is the reason behind the need for high taxes.

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  13. bear says:

    Yet another consequence of republican economic policy over the last 30 years.

    Cut taxes and don’t balance the federal budget.

    But that might hurt the Defense Department? Then republicans would be afraid for many reasons.

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  14. David says:

    The City, County, State and Federal governments won’t be satisfied until they have every penny you own. They can then “take care” of your every need.

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