The Visalia City Council is set to take up debate tonight whether to send a sales tax increase to voters this November. The half-cent tax on retail sales would bring in about $10 million a year to help fund public safety, road and facilities maintenance.
It would be in addition to Measure T, an existing voter-approved sales tax that funds law enforcement in the city. Because the new tax would not be dedicated for any one specific use, it only requires a simple majority to pass.
While the city has been working on the proposal for several months, a number of details still remain to be worked out before it can make it to the ballot. They include whether or not to include things like youth programs in the spending plan, the creation of a citizens’ advisory committee and whether or not the city should maintain a 10 percent budget reserve. Another sticking point is whether to let voters approve future extensions of the tax or to put that issue in the hands of the city council.
According to a city commissioned poll of 500 residents, about 62 percent of voters say they would support a half-cent sales tax increase.
If approved it would cost the average Visalia household about $136 a year. The council faces an August 1st deadline to put the measure on the November ballot.