Priming the Pump Part II - Is this the year Elk Grove and the CCSD will seek a sales taxes hike?

As outlined in Part I last week, the Elk Grove City Council has flirted with placing a sales tax increase on the ballot for several years. Even though the clock is ticking down for the Elk Grove City Council, which could be joined by the Cosumnes Community Services District, both agencies could move quickly to place it on the November 2022 ballot.

As with all decisions, this will be a political calculation by the elected officials. And a few things are helping their sales pitch to voters, not the least of which is the increase in crime.

Even though politicians are loath to acknowledge crime is increasing on their watch, they could spin it to justify a sales tax increase. They could argue crime is up slightly, so if you want to decrease crime and enhance public safety, we need more cops on the street, and we need more money.

With the help of police and firefighters union contributions and endorsement of the measure, it can be a potent message to voters. In addition, the public safety unions can provide much-needed political cover for elected officials and public executives as they seek to increase taxes. 

Let's look at how a sales tax increase can be pursued and its implications for three local elected officials. But, before we do, watch the 2016 video of Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume posted below that is instructional on the mechanics of sales tax measures. 

As explained by Hume, for a sales tax measure for specific uses to be placed on a ballot, a simple majority of the legislative body needs to approve placement on the ballot, but for the measure to be approved, it needs a super two-thirds majority of voters to be adopted. 

If the city council and CCSD want to place a sales tax measure for a specific use, only three members of each legislative body need to approve it, but 66.6-percent of voters need to affirm the tax hike. Reaching a two-thirds majority on a tax measure is tough - ask the Sacramento Transit Authority. 

Conversely, for a tax increase for nonspecific uses, a supermajority of the legislative body, four members of the city council, and the CCSD board need to approve it, but only a simple majority is required for voter approval.

Should the city council, in particular, take the path of least resistance and seek a nonspecific tax increase, they likely have four council members who will support the proposal. That was not always the case with previous city council iterations. 

This takes us back to Hume and CCSD Director Jaclyn Moreno, both of who are vying to be the next District 5 Sacramento County Supervisor. If, as expected, both advance out of the June primary to a November showdown, neither will be returning to their current positions, so their vote to seek a sales tax increase has little downside.

Furthermore, if both vote to pursue the sales tax hikes for their respective agencies, neither can use it as a political weapon leading to the November election. Of course, they could vote against the pursuit of the sales tax increase for the sole purpose of using it against the other, but we don't think that will happen given Moreno's progressive political stances and Hume, who has shown willingness to support a county-wide sales tax increase to fund the Southeast Connector roadway project.  

The most vulnerable elected official is CCSD Director Rod Brewer, who is running in November for the Elk Grove City Council District 2 seat, the most conservative area in the city. Should Brewer support the sales tax hike, he could be bludgeoned by better-funded opponents, 

But hey, if he is the sacrificial lamb for more cash in coffers, so be it. After all, money trumps loyalty in each person's game of politics.   

Our guess is the city council and the CCSD will pursue the sales tax increase this year, but it will not have hearings anytime before the June 7 primary to give cover for Hume and Moreno. Of course, there will be a mad dash once that happens, but they could paint it as an urgent item that needs to be quickly addressed. 

In the coming weeks, don't be surprised to see not-so-subtle messaging from Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, city council members, and CCSD directors on the dire need for more public safety funding. Naturally, a few goodies will be added to sweeten things for certain voting groups.  

To paraphrase what the late former NFL quarterback, Cabinet Member, and Congressman Jack Kemp said of the late Senator Bob Dole, the Elk Grove City Council, and Cosumnes Comunity Serice District Board of Directors and public safety unions never met a tax increase they didn't love!      

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I don't know much about money, but if Bobbie says it's a good idea, then I'll vote for it!

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