SLO City Council to discuss measure for sales tax renewal in May

City’s charter status may help half-percent sales tax extension get onto the November ballot

acornejo@thetribunenews.comApril 16, 2014 

The San Luis Obispo City Council will discuss invoking the city’s charter status as a way to put a measure to renew a half-percent sales tax increase on the ballot in November.

On Tuesday, the council agreed to review on May 6 the requirements for putting a general purpose tax increase before voters, after it recently became clear that just three of the five council members support such a measure.

During public comment at the meeting Tuesday, several people encouraged the council to forge ahead with putting a sales tax measure on the ballot.

“We have earned that right,” Carl Dudley said.

Typically, cities abide by state government code that requires a two-thirds vote of the council (a 4-1 vote) to put a revenue-enhancing measure on the ballot.

A 2001 ruling by a California appellate court involving the city of San Leandro, however, determined the two-thirds vote requirement does not apply to charter cities.

That will be the issue before the council on May 6.

The proposed language of the measure also will be presented at the May 6 meeting.

The new ballot measure would seek to extend Measure Y, a half-percent sales tax increase that city voters approved in 2006 and is due to expire in March 2015. If voters approve an extension, sales tax in San Luis Obispo would remain at 8 percent for an additional eight years.

When it was approved, Measure Y was intended to provide funding to protect and maintain essential city services.

In 2006, Measure Y’s description of proposed uses included neighborhood street paving and pothole repair; traffic congestion relief; public safety, including restoring eliminated traffic patrol, fire marshal and fire/paramedic training positions; flood protection; senior services and facilities; neighborhood code enforcement; open space preservation; and other general purpose services.

In addition to those uses, the council directed the city staff at its April 1 meeting to add capital improvement projects to the new ballot measure.

“We are evaluating how to amend additional language to meet this direction,” said City Manager Katie Lichtig.

The council will not adopt the renewal measure’s final language on May 6 but will give direction on any possible modifications, Lichtig said.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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