A proposed sales tax increase will be on Morro Bay's ballot in November, but a similar measure didn't get the green light in Arroyo Grande.
- File Photo By Jayson Mellom
- GENERATING REVENUE Cities throughout SLO County are considering putting tax increases on the November ballot, a strategy that could help fill in the gaps left by coronavirus-related budget shortfalls.
At a meeting on July 14, Morro Bay City Council voted unanimously to put a 1 percent increase to the city's transactions and use tax rate on the ballot, a measure that city staff estimate would raise nearly $2 million a year if passed by voters. All other cities in SLO County are considering or have already passed such ballot measures.
But despite support from most Arroyo Grande City Council members, a similar 1 percent sales tax increase died without action at a meeting on the same night. Several community members, including representatives of the South County Chambers of Commerce, called in to speak out against the sales tax, which they said would put another financial burden on residents and businesses at a time when everyone is already struggling because of COVID-19.
Though Arroyo Grande City Councilmember Lan George initially seemed to support putting such an increase on the ballot, she ended the meeting opposed to it, along with Mayor Caren Ray Russom.
"I am in full support of a tax measure, but not now," George wrote in a statement to New Times. "While there is never a good time for a tax increase, during COVID is most definitely not the right time. We are in need of funds to maintain our roads, but I truly believe we need to be sensitive to our residents and their financial situation at this time." Δ