Arroyo Grande’s push for a sales tax increase fails

July 16, 2020


During a contentious city council meeting on Tuesday, members of the Arroyo Grande Council were split 2-3 on whether or not to place a 1 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot, causing the proposal, which requires a 4-1 vote, to fall short.

The sales tax would have helped the city cover $3.5 million in annual unfunded maintenance costs for roads, public buildings, public works and parks. It was expected to generate $4 million a year.

Prior to the meeting, the city council received 18 letters from the public, 17 opposed to the tax increase including one from the South County Chamber of Commerce, and one in favor. Residents questioned the timing and the city’s spending habits.

“This is not a way to compensate for poor budgeting by the city,” Ken Peterson wrote. “The citizens of Arroyo Grande didn’t create this problem so don’t feel we should all be punished with extra sales taxes and mask fines.”

During public comment, all but two of the speakers voiced opposition to the proposed sales tax increase. Former mayor Jim Hill suggested the council lower the current sales tax rate and then advertise that people can get the lowest prices by shopping in Arroyo Grande.

Speaking first, Ray-Russom said she could not get behind a sales tax increase at this time. Councilwoman Lan George then agreed with Ray-Russom.

Council members Keith Storton, Jimmy Paulding and Kristen Barneich voiced support for a sales tax increase, but failed in an attempt to get George to change her vote.

Mayor Ray-Russom then gave her fellow council members 10 seconds to make a motion, and no one did.

During the same meeting, the council voted 5-0 in favor of an ordinance to allow the city to fine violators of state and county face mask rules. Fines would start at $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and $500 for each additional offense in the same year. The council agreed the fines would be complaint driven.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Maybe all tourist destination town should have a 20% sales tax and the locals can buy their products in Bakersfield. The highways will not be a stampede in one direction on Friday and in the other direction on Sunday, it will be a vibrant gas tax thoroughfare. Life on Monday through Thursday will be quiet, we’ll have newly paved streets and every taxpayer supported job will have a better retirement elsewhere, Nebraska?

It’s an election year for Ray. We can thank her campaign donor for urging her no vote.

Too bad he couldn’t convince her before the city spent $25k on the survey which led the council to move forward on this.

Mask mandate… when is the sunset date on that? AG city leaders seem so dumb they probably forgot that part so the law may continue beyond the virus. (?)

How about mandating city leaders not to bill $18 alcohol shots to the city!?

Congratulations on making a pro-business decision! I’ll be at Walmart more if SLO passes its proposed sales tax increase.

Now could you please come out against Prop. 15, which will do away with the Prop. 13 property tax protections for business properties? This has the potential to destroy just about every small business by raising property taxes annually on non-residential property.

OMG! Maybe, just maybe, the light at the end of the tunnel is not just an oncoming train.

Some small semblance of sanity prevails in AG.

You can not just keep feeding the hogs and expect them to go on a diet.

Now if this sanity movement could just spread to other cities as fast as COVID-19, then we all would be better off.

Let’s keep it going!!

First, cut salaries by 20%. Then start cutting budget items by “Last passed, first cut”.