Elk Grove City Council Kills Placing Sales Tax Increase on November Ballot

July 28, 2016 | In spite of paying for extensive polling data from an outside consultant,  after hearing opposition from the Elk Grove ...

July 28, 2016 |

In spite of paying for extensive polling data from an outside consultant,  after hearing opposition from the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce as well as several residents, the Elk Grove City Council decided not to pursue placing a sales tax increase proposal on this November's ballot.

The decision was the second setback at last night's regular meeting for Mayor Gary Davis. Prior to this decision, the city council also opposed Davis' idea to seek full-time salaries for the Mayor and Council Members. 

Following a lengthy staff report and presentation from a pollster indicating a one-half-cent sales tax could gain voter approval if placed on the ballot, the council heard several comments regarding the proposal. Without exception, the comments opposed placing the matter on the ballot.
Elk Grove Citizen
David Herburger told the City Council that the Elk Grove 
Chamber of Commerce views an increase in sales taxes as
a step backward.  

Speaking as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, Elk Grove Citizen Publisher David Herburger said that politically influential advocacy group would oppose the proposal if it appeared on the ballot. Herburger said their analysis of the city's current budget shows there is no need for an additional revenue source and if implemented, it would be a step backward for Elk Grove. 

"It is the opinion of our board of directors that an increase in sales taxes at this time would be counter-productive," Herburger said. 

After his comments, Davis asked Herburger if the Chamber has taken on Measure B, the countywide sales tax increase being pursued by the Sacramento Transportation Authority. Herburger said the Chamber had not, but that it may do so in the future. 

Elk Grove resident Michael Monasky pointed out that sales taxes are regressive and negatively affect low-income families.

"That means poorer people pay a greater share of their income toward the sales tax than anyone else," he said. "This Mayor and this City Council don't care if poorer people pay a greater share of their income in meeting their basic needs. They aren't listening right now." 

Monasky went on to say the City Council has willingly let roads deteriorate, while "the Council can find multiple tens-of-thousand of dollars for wayfinding signs."  

Deliberations were led by Councilman Darren Suen, who gave a lengthy, often rambling explanation of why the city needed additional revenue and supported placing the proposal on the ballot. The cornerstone of Suen's explanation was because Elk Grove is a newer city, it gets less property tax revenue compared to Roseville and Folsom and that it would help attract new employers to the City's new Southeast Planning Area. 

"I believe in order to increase the ability to bring jobs, to that area, infrastructure, adequate infrastructure, needs to be in place to service that area," Suen said. "And that infrastructure includes Kammerer Road which fronts along this property."

Suen went on to admit that had the sales tax been placed on the ballot and passed, the proceeds could "be an additional revenue source that we can use to expedite the improvement of that Kammerer Road and thereby then increase the likelihood that an employer will come, or an office builder will come to build a building there."

Noting his general opposition to tax increases, Councilman Pat Hume said he was concerned the City's proposal could imperil STA's Measure B. Hume, who is a Board Member of the STA, has come out in support of their proposed sales tax increase.    

"I'm married to the regional effort," he said. 

Hume went on to say that he would be willing to consider a local measure in two years based on the results of Measure B

As he often does, Vice Mayor Steve Ly was non-committal. "I'm really split on it," he said. Ly eventually commented that based on Herburger's comments, he would not support the proposal.

Piling on, Councilman Steve Detrick said he opposed the proposal saying the tax burden was already too large. He also noted that he voted against the expenditure to fund the polling date commissioned by the City.

"Just so everybody is clear, I have said before, I did not even support spending the money to do the investigation polling,"  Detrick said. "I voted against that." 

As with the proposal to increase the Mayor and City Councilmen pay, there was not enough support to even receive a motion to vote on the matter.  

After Detrick's comments, Davis quickly said, "let's move on to the next item please." 

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