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Supes hear tax talk

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County supervisors are testing the waters for tax hikes in response to the current budget crisis. The county is facing a deficit of $18 million. But they've delayed any decisions for the moment.

At a Feb. 19 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Auditor-Controller Gere Sibbach offered five "revenue enhancement" options. Any of them would have to be first approved by taxpayers by a two-thirds vote.

The options Sibbach offered are:

Increase sales tax countywide by a half-cent and use the money for transportation projects. The move would generate $24 million per year, but would apply equally to cities that have already recently raised sales taxes.

Raise the hotel tax in unincorporated areas by 1 percent so they match those of local cities. It would generate an estimated $700,000 for the county per year.

Broaden the hotel tax, formally called the Transient Occupancy Tax, so it applies to campgrounds and RV parks as well. The move would generate about $420,000 per year.

Increase the fees for business licenses for businesses in unincorporated areas. Sibbach estimated that the county could receive about $750,000 through the hikes.

Join San Luis Obispo city in levying a 5 percent tax on utilities--namely electricity, natural gas, and telephone services. The move would raise about $7 million per year for the county.

Supervisors were cool to the ideas, and asked for further study.

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