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Increased sales tax placed on November ballot in Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara City Council voted to place a one-percent sales tax increase on the November 2017 ballot Tuesday afternoon.

The sales tax increase would provide approximately $22 million annually according to the city’s website. This fund would help to maintain and improve police, fire, paramedics and 911 emergency response systems. It would also repair local streets, potholes, bridges, and storm drains; upgrade public safety infrastructure, parks, and libraries.

This measure would increase the sales tax rate in Santa Barbara from 7.75% to 8.75%. That would make Santa Barbara’s sales tax equal to other city’s like Palm Springs and Monterey. As of July 1, Santa Monica’s sales tax rate is 10.25%.

Streets are rated on a Pavement Condition Index. Santa Barbara city’s current PCI is 61, which renders as “At Risk”.

“Today with an average road being in fair condition, that costs [the city] about 5 to 6 times more than a road than if it was in good condition,” said city engineer Brian D’Amour in an infrastructure video produced by the City of Santa Barbara.

With a sales tax increase of one-percent, it is estimated that city streets would be in “Good/Excellent” condition by 2036.

“If you keep not taking care of something long enough, all of a sudden the whole system breaks down,” said Dick Jenson, Chair of the Infrastructure Financing Task Force 2008.

According to the City’s website, the state has taken away over $100 million dollars in local city funding through the elimination of redevelopment agencies. These agencies have funded the repairs to the bricks on State Street, renovations to Fire Station 1 and the Cabrillo Recreation Center.

Due to the loss in State funding, the city had to look for local funding sources that could not be taken away. On April 18, the city council initiated procedural steps to place a measure to increase the sales tax on the November 2017 ballot.

This was done after a research study was conducted to see what public response would be on an increase on sales tax. The study was conduced on March 13-17, 2017 by the Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates. The study had two focus groups and 20 participants, all Santa Barbara registered voters.

According to the survey, 39% said a “definitely yes” with a total of 64% responding “yes”. The study also found that “those from less affluent households are initially more likely to support the measure, with all income groupings supporting it above the threshold to pass”. The study also found that maintaining police, fire, paramedic, 911 emergency response, and repairing local streets are “extremely” important.

For more information on Santa Barbara Infrastructure, click here.

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