Measure T: Santa Paula 1-cent sales tax won’t start until April

January 04, 2017
Santa Paula News

No need to slow down your post-holiday shopping: Santa Paula’s own 1-cent Measure T sales tax approved by voters in November won’t start until April 1.

Almost 60 percent of voters approved the tax 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.

According to Santa Paula City Attorney John Cotti “The effective date of the sales tax ordinance is April 1, 2017,” and the city will see the first revenue with the 2nd Quarter 2017 sales receipts.

Cotti noted, “No revenue from the new tax will appear in this fiscal year with the exception of the June 2017 advance from the State Board of Equalization.”

Santa Paula’s current tax is 7.5 percent and Measure T will increase it to 8.5 percent. All revenue from the tax increase proposed by Measure T goes directly to the city without any funding stops at the state or county 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, did not meet the voter approval benchmark of 67 percent. As a general-purpose tax only a simple majority was required 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 council has been discussing the mechanics of the commission and is expected to finalize guidelines as well as make appointments to the panel soon.

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