Saturday is more than April Fools’ Day as new SP sales tax kicks in

March 29, 2017
Santa Paula News

Come Saturday it will be more than April Fools’ Day for Santa Paulans.

April 1st is the day that the Measure T sales tax kicks in, adding one cent to each dollar purchase for applicable items.

Santa Paula voters approved Measure T in November giving it a solid majority of about 60 percent approval. 

The sales tax was pitched to voters to benefit police, fire, youth programs and roads. With the stronger economy and uptick in consumer spending, the new tax is estimated to generate approximately $2.1 million a year 

At a scant penny on the dollar the sales tax won’t be noticeable, especially as it will not apply to the most frequently purchased commodity, groceries. Of course, as the value of larger, taxable purchases grows the tax will become more apparent at $10 per $1,000.

City coffers will see the first revenue with the 2017 2nd Quarter sales receipts.

Santa Paula’s current tax is 7.25 percent and Measure T will increase it to 8.25 percent, among the highest in the county. All revenue from the tax increase proposed by Measure T goes directly to the city without any funding stops at the state, county or local levels.

The tax generated by Measure T will sunset in 2036.

As a “general tax” all revenue generated from the Measure T 1-cent sales tax will be deposited into the city’s General Fund and available for use by the city to pay for general city operations and services, including police and fire services, street repair, and youth programs. 

According to the measure’s impartial analysis, “The City, however, would not be legally bound in any way to use the tax monies for any special purpose or for any particular facilities or programs. Since this ballot measure proposes a ‘general tax’ rather than a ‘special purpose tax,’ it requires approval by a simple majority of the City’s voters.”

The city had learned its lesson when Measure F, another 1-cent sales tax measure that was presented to voters as a special purpose tax, came close but did not meet the approval benchmark of 67 percent. Measure T, as a general-purpose tax required only a simple majority for passage. 

The tax ordinance notes the analysis, “requires a five-member citizen commission comprised of members appointed by the City Council to annually review and audit expenditures of revenues derived from the sales tax. The report issued by the citizen commission is a public record and must be considered by the City Council at a public meeting.”

The City Council was scheduled to interview candidates for the Measure T citizens’ commission on Monday.

In past discussions the council has discussed the mechanics of the commission and will finalize guidelines.

The new Measure T sales tax is part of a swing of taxes: in January the sales tax went down across the state with the demise of Proposition 30. Known as the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, Proposition 30 was approved by voters in 2012 to temporarily increase the sales and use tax by 0.25 percent. 

The City of Ventura will also see a sales tax increase Saturday with its rate rising from 7.25 percent to 7.75 percent. In November voters approved an initiative for overall city improvement that is expected to bring in almost $11 million in annual revenue.

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