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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Don’t they work for us?

Aren’t we suppose to tell them what to do?

This is from the South County Chamber of Commerce:

“We sent a survey to our local businesses and of approximately 70 responses 54% were opposed to an increase, 25% supported an increase and 21% were undecided. After careful consideration, the SCCC Board voted unanimously to oppose an increase to the Arroyo Grande sales tax.”

How about the council ‘take one for the team’? Rescind the raises, or better yet, forgo all compensation.

FYI, the benefit packages being taken by some council members (as much as $22K a year) are equal to a furloughed part-time salary. A couple of part-time folks are out of their jobs, while the city pays your medical/dental/vision — bullsh*t!

Why beat around the bush?

That would be YOU Kristen Barneich and Keith Storton!

And how about reconsidering that $24M option on the Ferrara roundabout?

The city never had the funds to pay for the project to begin with.

Then there’s that overpriced FCFA…the list goes on…

First rescind the council and mayor raises, then make serious cuts to the bloated administration, salaries and benefits, (including ending health benefits for the council), stop threats to cutting public safety and maintenance, then state exactly where any new tax will go, not the general fund, and state any new taxes and fees have a sunset clause of no longer than 3-5 years. Then we can talk about the possibility of increased taxes, until then a big NO. And publicly state there will be no “round-a-bout” at Brisco, this is just ridiculous especially given the financial picture.

Unemployment is up, business’s are either down, or considering closing. Tourism may be down for some time. Not really a time to add more burden in the form of additional taxes or if the measure fails, additional fee’s, during such a trying time for all of us:(

When my income drops, either for my business or personally, I have to make tough choices, raising my prices is a good way to lose customers and market share:(

I guess municipality’s have a different playbook, taxpayers are just fish in a barrel with no way of not getting speared:(

You can’t spend or tax your way out of a financial hole, it has been tried by many Democrats and failed.