Modesto CA officials plan to tax November ballot

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Modesto police arrest a man after a rollover accident on K Street in Modesto, Calif. on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

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Modesto City Council is expected to impose a 1% sales tax on the November ballot on Tuesday. If approved by voters, city officials say the tax would raise $39 million a year for public safety, homelessness and scourge, park improvements and other things basic.

The city is proposing a general sales tax for the ballot. It requires a simple majority to pass and can be used for any general government purpose.

Modesto’s current tax rate is 7.875%. For comparison, Ceres’ rate is 8.375%, Turlock’s is 8.625%, Manteca’s is 8.25% and Stockton’s is 9%, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

The tax would have fiscal effect in April 2023 if approved by voters.

The sales tax ordinance states that the city council would appoint a nine-member Board of Supervisors by June 2023 that would meet publicly at least semi-annually “to review all receipts and expenditures of the tax funds authorized by this ordinance. , review annual audit reports related to this tax measure and make at least one annual written report to the municipal council at a public meeting summarizing the findings of the board of oversight.

The council would be made up of members from each of the council’s six districts and three members at large. The ordinance states that the council “will give strong preference to members who represent a cross-section of the community.”

The order states that this includes representatives from schools, local business associations, chambers of commerce, non-profit organizations, non-partisan political groups, ratepayers associations, seniors groups and neighborhood associations. .

The ballot measure for the tax says it “would fund general city services…, such as police patrol, gang, drug and crime prevention; fire protection, paramedic/911 emergency response; fighting homelessness; clean up trash and illegal dumps; keep streets, parks, sidewalks, landscapes and infrastructure safe, clean and well maintained….”

The measure also says it would take another vote to end the tax.

The 1% sales tax goes to the city’s general fund, which accounts for about one-third of the city’s operating budget. (The operating budget for the city’s next budget, which begins Friday, is $508 million.)

The general fund of the new budget is planned at 171 million dollars. (This is somewhat misleading as it includes $4.5 million in one-time federal funding for pandemic relief.) About 80% of the fund is spent on police and fire departments, the rest on other basic services, including parks.

City officials said that due to state funding formulas, Modesto does not receive as much general fund revenue as its peer cities. Officials also say that while its general fund revenues, which are mostly sales, property and other taxes, are growing, they are not growing as fast as general fund expenditures. These expenses relate mainly to employee compensation, including pensions.

This has led to structural deficits since the Great Recession more than a dozen years ago, which the city has closed each year through measures such as freezing or eliminating open positions and reducing services.

City manager Joe Lopez warns in a report to city council that without this sales tax measure, the city will face the reduction or elimination of essential services in the coming years, most of it coming from security. public.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. in the basement rooms at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St. The meeting will also be livestreamed, and the public can watch and ask questions on Zoom.

More information is available at www.modestogov.com/749/City-Council-Agendas-Minutes and by clicking on the meeting link.

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Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general missions for The Modesto Bee. He graduated from San José State University.

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