SLO sales tax renewal lacking needed support
April 2, 2014
The San Luis Obispo City Council majority must muster four votes in order to place a renewal of its half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. But, as of Tuesday night, only three council members support doing so.
At a council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Jan Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson expressed support for renewing Measure Y, the city’s half-cent sales tax. Council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith expressed opposition.
After a heated discussion, in which Marx called Carpenter and Smith obstructionists, the council voted 3-2 to direct city staff to craft a potential ballot measure and bring it back to them by July for review. The 3-2 vote, with council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith dissenting, is enough to get staff working on the ballot measure. But, when the proposed measure returns to council, a 4-1 or 5-0 vote will be necessary to place it on the November ballot.
Smith said she does not trust the city to use general-purpose sales tax money as promised, but she would support a specific use tax.
In recent months, staff members have struggled to identify capital improvement projects the city has completed using Measure Y funds. Staff is now championing its use of Measure Y funds for street maintenance and storm drain replacement, which many residents considered expected services prior to approval of the sales tax.
If the council places a general-purpose sales tax renewal on the ballot, it will require a majority vote to pass. However, two-thirds of voters must support a specific use tax in order for one to pass.