Healdsburg soon will reap extra revenue from a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters. But how should that million bucks or so be spent? The answer from a survey of residents was overwhelmingly clear: fix the streets.
Santa Rosa City Schools is examining the options of reinstating up to three classroom days to the current school year and returning the budgetary reserve to 3 percent in the wake of Proposition 30′s passage last week. Proposition 30 temporarily increases the state sales tax by a quarter-cent and income taxes on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percent, staving off what Gov. Jerry Brown said would have been $4.8 billion in cuts to K-12 education in the current school year.
In a public presentation that was intended to avoid advocacy, Healdsburg officials on Tuesday said the proposed half-cent sales tax hike on next week’s election ballot will help avoid deep cuts to core services. City Manager Marjie Pettus said Measure V, which would raise an estimated $1 million annually for 10 years, ‘will help us maintain services and put programs and services that were previously cut back into the budget.’
Higher tax revenues from the improving economy combined with cost savings from employee concessions should put Santa Rosa in the black for the third year in a row. The city should end this fiscal year with $17.8 million in reserves, the first time in five years it has hit its goal of having at least 15 percent of its general fund set aside for emergencies.
A Town Hall meeting next week on a proposed sales tax increase in Healdsburg is billed as strictly informational, hosted by city staff to explain the ballot measure. But Tim Meinken, the only City Council candidate opposed to the sales tax hike, is skeptical that top city officials can give a balanced presentation on the topic. ‘I find it hard to believe they will present just the facts,’ said Meinken, who was rebuffed in his request to be a speaker at Tuesday’s 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall.
This is in response to the Saturday editorial titled ‘Timing is wrong for local sales tax hikes.’ We strongly disagree. Healdsburg’s Measure V is necessary for the ongoing fiscal health of the city.
The Petaluma City Council Thursday night dropped a proposal to seek a sales tax increase in the November election. At least four votes of the seven-member council were needed to direct the city attorney to return Aug. 6 with proposed ballot language for a tax hike the council had been considering for several weeks.
The Petaluma police union has come out against a proposed sales tax increase the City Council may place on the November ballot. The council is divided on whether to ask voters to increase the current 8 percent tax by either a quarter- or a half-percent — or whether to seek an increase at all.
The Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday voted uninanimously to put a measure on the November ballot to raise the city’s sales tax to 8.75 percent, which would be the highest in Sonoma County. The proposed half-percent increase would generate about $1 million a year — the equivalent of 20 percent of the current general fund budget — and would expire in eight years.
Like many Sonoma County cities over the past several years, Petaluma has dramatically cut spending as revenues slid and costs climbed. City workers make do with reduced supplies, older equipment and fewer coworkers. They have taken pay cuts, given up raises and seen entire departments outsourced. City Councilwoman Tiffany Renee said the time has come to stop simply cutting, cutting, cutting.