Sales Tax Increase Pursuit Dropped by Elk Grove City Council

Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume discussing the pursuit
of a sales tax hike. | 

April 11, 2018 | 

What started out over three years ago with great hope died with barely a whimper when the Elk Grove City Council decided to kill the pursuit of a sales tax hike. The decision was made at the council's Wednesday, April 11 meeting.

In making their decision, the city council decided not to place a sales tax hike on the November 2018 ballot. The city council had been deliberating whether to seek a one-half or full percent tax hike to the city's current rate of 7.75-percent.

Even though they killed the idea with little discussion, considerable city staff time had been spent pursuing the matter. Additionally, the city paid two outside consulting companies a yet to be determined sum of taxpayer money on conducting surveys and developing campaign strategies to sell the idea had it made it to the ballot.

Following a brief staff presentation and public comment, Council Member Pat Hume opened deliberations noting that the city of Folsom had decided to seek a sales tax hike on the November ballot. Hume stated the main difference was their proposal was for a 10 year period. 

"It will be interesting to see how that plays out with the voters, but I thought it was at least something different," Hume said. 

Hume went to say that he had "a gut feeling that the numbers we have been provided are optimistic at best." He also stated he had seen other unspecified numbers showing the proposal enjoying less than 50 percent approval before any campaign had been organized in opposition.

Saying the exercise was a useful tool in identifying amenities the community desires, Vice Mayor Darren Suen agreed that the matter should be killed, but left an opening for reconsideration.  

"I would agree with Councilman Hume in the sense that at this point I don't think we are ready to ask that question of the public," Suen said.

During the entire process, only Council Member Steve Detrick opposed considering a tax hike and commissioning the work done for the city by Godbe Research and Clifford Moss. As recently as the February 28 city council meeting Hume, Suen, Council Member Stephanie Nguyen and Mayor Steve Ly indicated they wanted city staff to continue working with Godbe Research and Clifford Moss and were inclined to continue pursuing that new revenue source.

In his comments, Ly walked back earlier support for the pursuit saying he was "perplexed that we actually proceeded this far." In the very next sentence, Ly then said: "I did allow for it considering too, considering the possibilities out there, but obviously option two [to drop the matter] is the winner here."  

One aspect of the sales tax hike proposal that was not mentioned was the election year dynamics. Of the five council members, only Detrick will not appear on the November ballot with Hume seeking a fourth term, Nguyen a full four-year term following her appointment last year, and Suen challenging Ly for the mayoral position.  

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Eye on Elk Grove said...

More money wasted by the Elk Grove City Council. But let’s get real here, this is about the optics of putting a sales tax increase on the ballot along with four of their names. Once again, as predicted, we have an exercise in hubris from the Elk Grove City Council.

This is getting so old!

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Pleased to see the city council has stepped back from this proposal. Using the parlance of some of the council members and city staff, it is time for them to sharpen their pencils and operate from a sense of fiscal responsibility. No free rides here.

It will be interesting to see how much money the city spent on a project which crashed and burned.

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