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A sales tax increase could help Santa Barbara out of its serious debt problem faster than any other plan

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Voters are expected to be asked to approve a sales tax increase in November to help Santa Barbara deal with a deep deficit.

It's at about $7-million and a serious concerns to elected leaders. The City Council is considering a ballot measure for the November election calling for a 1/2 percentage sales tax increase. That is estimated to be enough to bring in an additional $15.6 million annually. 

For the average shopper whether you are local or a visitor it would mean a $100 meal bill or retail purchase would be $109.25.

A survey of residents in recent months showed support for the tax change. Supporters said it would be spread over a cross section of the buying public from locals to visitors.

There are, however, questions about the current financial operations.

Herbal Tea Vendor Juan Vega said, "what is the city doing with the funds right now?  How are they managing it?    The way things are right now you have inflation going up you have price of everything you have consumer goods all around  across the board,  prices are going up.  "

Santa Barbara resident and downtown employee, Chris Arndt said, "of course paying more money doesn't sound appealing but I'm sure it's for a good cause."

A specific use was important to many people. Santa Barbara resident Sarina Carbajal said, "I go to the library a lot with my son so if they are going to give them more resources and stuff I wouldn't be opposed to that.  I think I would want to know where the funds are going, then I would support that".    

The supply line could also be impacted. "Imagine a business owner that makes whatever they make in three months, and then they look at their sales tax, they're like I made this,  now I have to pay this in sales tax," said Alexis Flores. He said those costs would be passed down the line.

If the increase is approved in November it would take affect April 1, 2025 and have an impact on the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025. The rate would be about $1.3 million per month.

Currently Goleta, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara all have the same tax at 8.75%. Ventura is at 7.75%.

Other tax increase choices may not bring in the money the city now needs. A transient occupancy tax or bed tax is based on hotel reservations and it could be inconsistent. A vacancy tax for buildings that are left empty will cost the city for this policy enforcement and the amount of revenue is based on the vacancy.

A plan to educate the voters on the ballot measure is expected by the time the ballots arrive the first week in October.

Already a city report for the June 4th meeting, says there have been community meetings in several locations since last year. There has also been a survey and results will also be presented.

Meetings held to-date include the following:
1.Downtown Santa Barbara (BID) - 10/10/23
2.The Riviera Association - Santa Barbara - 10/22/23
3.Santa Barbara Library Foundation - 10/26/23
4.Housing Authority - 11/1/23
5.Our Mesa Neighborhood Inc "OMNI" - 11/9/23
6.Library Board - 11/9/23
7.Parks and Recreation Commission - 11/15/23
8.Community Environmental Council - 11/16/23
9.Visit Santa Barbara - 11/28/23
10.Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce - 11/25/23
11.Santa Barbara Foundation - 12/4/23
12.Realtors Association - 12/6/23
13.Santa Barbara League of Women Voters - 12/6/23
14.Concerned California - 12/13/23
15.Santa Barbara Elks Lodge - 2/29/24
16.Independent Living Resource Center - 4/3/24
17.Community Townhall at Valle Verde - 4/29/24
18.Community Townhall at Peabody Charter - 5/2/24
19.Community Townhall at Franklin Community Center - 5/4/24
20.Community Townhall at Monroe Elementary School - 5/6/24
21.Community Townhall at Harding School - 5/8/24
22.Community Townhall at Carrillo Recreation Center - 5/10/24
23.Visit Santa Barbara - 5/16/24

(More details, photos and video will be added here later today)

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
money and business
Santa Barbara

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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