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Sales tax hike, infrastructure in focus for new Carpinteria mayor

It was a warm welcome at a packed Carpinteria City Hall Monday night for new mayor Wade Nomura.

During his opening statement, though, he shied away from being called by that title.

“I’m gonna ask the community now, if you wouldn’t mind, calling me by my first name rather than calling me as ‘mayor,'” Nomura said. “Because I’m one of you. And I wanna be one of you forever.”

Nomura–the former Vice Mayor, now taking over for Fred Shaw–says he’s excited for the future of the city. Though there are some issues to address in the present, like the city’s roadways that need a facelift.

“We have a shortfall as far as infrastructure within the city,” he said. “Especially streets, things like that.”

The city will raise its sales tax by 1.25 percent–raising the figure to 9 percent–beginning in April. The city estimates the move will generate about $2.3 million a year. Some of that money will go to repairing cracked and bumpy streets. The rest of the money will go toward library and park improvements as well as to funding for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, which polices the area.

“This will be able to help us out substantially,” Nomura said. “No longer are we gonna be banking on money coming in from property taxes. This will be shared by everybody because everybody shares the same roads.”

The measure passed with 55 percent of the vote in last month’s election, but it’s still an increase that will be felt for those shopping and eating around town.

Whether Carpinterians support the tax hike or not, many seem to agree that the city’s roads have seen better days.

“Some of these streets, the roots are popping up,” Carpinteria resident Bryan Bush said. “I’m hopeful that the increase in tax, we see an improvement–a marked improvement–in our city.”

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