Arroyo Grande shoppers will continue to be charged a half percent sales tax when making purchases in the city, with the money going to help pay for transportation, infrastructure and public safety improvements.
In 2006, voters approved Measure O, which would finance some of the city’s “long-range financial plans” such as fixing the Brisco Road-Highway 101 interchange and funding its police and fire departments. The tax was required to come before the City Council every five years for review but does not need voter approval to be extended. The council last reviewed the tax in 2012.
On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved extending the sales tax for another five years.
“I think that we have stayed very true to what it was intended and what the voters said they wanted to use the money for — $2.2 million annually for things that are very important to the quality of life in A.G.,” Councilwoman Kristen Barneich said. “I’m not sure what we would do without it at this point.”
The sales tax is expected to bring in about $2.2 million this fiscal year ending June 30, and almost $12 million in total by 2021, according to a city staff report.
In the past five years, about $10.5 million from the tax has gone toward street and park improvements, police and fire costs and improving city facilities such as the police station and a new Corporation Yard office.
Going forward, about $6.1 million is expected to go to street and park improvements in the next five years; $996,700 to police; $875,000 to the Five Cities Fire Authority; and $1.1 million for city facilities.
Only 1 percent of the funding in the past five years has been used for major transportation projects, but more spending is expected on that front once the city’s plans for the Brisco Road interchange are solidified.
That interchange was identified as one of the city’s “priority improvements” when pushing for Measure O, but plans for it have been waylaid for close to a decade as the city and Caltrans clashed over the correct way to improve the interchange. Most recently, the city temporarily closed the Highway 101 ramps at Brisco, but it was told by Caltrans that it would have to reopen them while the city pursued permanent plans for closing the ramps.
The city staff expect to use $1.6 million from the sales tax fund toward Brisco Road over the next five years, and another $600,000 for other transportation projects.