Their Own Words Video - Elk Grove City Council Members Comment, Waffle on Sales Tax Hike Scheme

March 3, 2018 |

It is always a difficult task for any politician to take a definitive stance on a controversial topic, and the Elk Grove City Council is no exception. This truism was on full display during their most recent meeting on Wednesday, February 28.

The question before the five council members was if they wanted to pursue a sales tax hike. The discussion took place after a report from consultants hired by the city to gauge voters appetite for imposing more taxes on themselves.

The results of the consultants were, not surprisingly given the more surveys they conduct, the more money they collect from taxpayers, inconclusive. The consultants reported when the survey respondents were uninformed about the negative ramifications they supported the idea, but once they were informed of the consequences of the additional tax burden they were asked to shoulder, support dropped significantly. 

During their deliberations, only one council member, Steve Detrick, took a definitive stance. Detrick said he opposed further burdening Elk Grove taxpayers, and that there was enough information to decide on whether or not to place the tax hike proposal on one of two ballots available in 2018. 

As for the other council members, their stances were not as decisive. A common thread among their comments was a larger sampling was needed and more outreach - read as sales job selling the benefits of the tax hike to Elk Grove voters - was required.

Of course, there is one crucial distinction between Detrick and Mayor Steve Ly, Vice Mayor Darren Suen, and council members Pat Hume and Stephanie Nguyen. Detrick is not on this year's ballot, and opposing tax increases is not a politically tough stance to take, especially if you are in the minority.

Conversely, Ly, Hume, and Nguyen are all on the ballot this year and undoubtedly understand the optics of pushing an unpopular tax increase. Additionally, given Suen, who was elected in 2016, is widely expected to challenge Ly for mayor, it is not hard to understand why the four are hedging their bets.

Interestingly, after the city council's punt on Wednesday night, a reader has informed us of a cell phone survey call they received on the afternoon of Saturday, March 3. Among the numerous questions was their preference for mayor - which included Ly, Suen, and Elk Grove Planning Commissioner and 2016 mayoral candidate, Kevin Spease, and the other city council races.

Additionally, the pollster asked the respondent about Elk Grove's possible sale tax hike. Also noteworthy the pollster also mentioned a possible sales tax proposal for Sacramento County, which if appeared on the ballot, might make Elk Grove's efforts to extra revenue challenging.

Below are the comments of each council members during the February 28 meeting.  

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Josie said...

This will require some trust in the electorate that the tax revenues will be spent exclusively as they say. It's a pill I can't swallow at this time. I do not want to see Elk Grove suffer the public relations hit such a declaration would cause. It sends a message of failure and it will discourage investment in the city.

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