Arroyo Grande eyeing increases in taxes and fines to fill shortages

July 12, 2020


The Arroyo Grande City Council is scheduled on Tuesday to move forward on a 1 percent sales tax increase, and approval of fines for people who do not wear face masks.

Earlier this year, facing a $1.2 million budget shortfall, the council cut employee costs and services, resulting in a balanced budget. However, the city continues to struggle with a $3.5 million in annual unfunded maintenance costs for roads, public buildings, public works and parks.

A new 1 percent sales tax increase would generate up to $4 million annually, according to the staff report. If approved by the council, the city will place a 1 percent sales tax increase measure on the November ballot, increasing the sales tax from 7.75 to 8.75 percent.

Last fall, the Arroyo Grande City Council received harsh community criticism for voting to increase council member stipends by 60 percent, and the mayor’s stipend by 97 percent. Additionally, after activist Julie Tacker discovered Mayor Caren Ray-Russom had used city funds to purchase a personalized jacket and an $18 shot of whiskey, Ray-Russom reimbursed the city.

On Tuesday, the council is also scheduled to discuss an ordinance that will allow the city to fine violators of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s face mask rule. If approved, fines would start at $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and $500 for each additional offense in the same year.

“Of course, if the council decides to approve such an ordinance, education, outreach, and warnings to comply will  be always the first course of action,”  Councilman Jimmy Paulding posted on Facebook. “The fact is the numbers are rising and we need to get serious as a community or risk getting mandated by the state to go back a phase in the reopening process.”

On Tuesday at 6 p.m., the council will meet by teleconference. Members of the public can provide public comment during the meeting by calling (833) 493-5844 or by submitting written public comments to the Clerk of the Council at

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Are these the new rules that are going to be enforced legally and with fines?

Is this the same council that recently gave themselves a nice pay increase?

When I read about new taxes and what they’ll fix, I think of a drug addict justifying their next fix. Try priorities, conservation and real work because hard times require nothing less than what we can do with what we already have.

Great, #2 in the list of cities where I won’t spend my money.

The City is crying they don’t have any money. How many millions will they be spending on a Historic bridge that was perfectly fine?

I liked it a lot better when Jim Hill was mayor.

Evidently, all upper officials from all cities in SLO county must have graduated from the same school when it comes to fiscal accountability. School of “How to get more from your tax-paying citizens, while continuing to spend money as if it grows on trees”.

If “Black lives matter” (and they do) – then so must “Tax-payer lives matter”. The tax-payers in every city must put some real, serious thought into the question of “Are you getting what you are paying for?”

This November election needs to be a resounding statement that things just have to done better.

Continuing taxing, taxing, and more taxing is not a viable option.

By all means, raise taxes! That is always better than cutting services, staff, and of course travel allowances, cell phones, meetings, staff lunches, etc. And when the pandemic is over rest assured the tax will still be there but it will be for something else. There is always an excuse.

At least they’re putting the proposed tax increase on the ballot. Hopefully they won’t try to use misleading language to trick people into passing it. If so, I recommend boycotting buying anything in Arroyo Grande until the tax is repealed and other budget cuts are made. Maybe like cutting out the $18 whiskey shots payed for by the tax payers? When it’s not your money, spend with wild abandon!! Once in a while these low life’s get caught!